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University of Iowa News Release

June 23, 2005

Professor Available To Comment On Supreme Court Eminent Domain Ruling

University of Iowa law professor Lea VanderVelde, an expert on property rights and eminent domain, is available to speak with news media regarding today's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses -- even against their will -- for private economic development.

VanderVelde may be reached directly at her office at 319-335-9102, or via email at

VanderVelde said in a UI news release earlier this month ( that she believes the Supreme Court decision on property rights would set a precedent in the government use of eminent domain, but would do so in a way that will keep legal thinkers busy for years.

"We may see no less than four or five opinions come down," she said. "This is not one of those cases where there are clearly drawn lines between rights, such as states' rights versus federal. The normal polarities on the Supreme Court don't hold here. We could see a variety of splits over a range of possible tests and a range of distinctions drawn."

The case, Kelo v. City of New London, Conn., pitted Suzette Kelo, a homeowner in the coastal Connecticut town, against the city that wants to condemn her house for a private commercial development. The city has a depressed industrial economy and hopes the development project by Pfizer will spur development and create new jobs. Kelo has a view of the ocean from her modest home and she is one of the few holdout property owners in the neighborhood. So far, courts have found in favor of the city's right to condemn the land and Kelo had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn those decisions so that she can keep her home.

VanderVelde has studied the case extensively and attended oral arguments before the justices when the case was heard earlier this year.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,