Condemn-Nation: The Social Psychological Foundations of the Kelo Backlash
Authors: Shari Seidman Diamond, Janice Nadler
This project seeks to understand and explain the extreme public reaction to the Kelo case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that governments are permitted to force the sale of private property for the purpose of promoting economic development. It focuses on the rift between the public’s expectations about the circumstances under which government should be permitted to take private property, on the one hand, and eminent domain law, on the other. The goal of these studies is to provide an initial map of common sense perceptions of justice regarding takings. The first publication in connection with this project will be a chapter in an edited volume on public opinion and the Supreme Court. The chapter analyzes polling data following the Kelo decision, and shows that the backlash against the decision was uniform across virtually all dimensions of identification, including political party, race, income, and education. The second paper experimentally tests the hypothesis that subjective attachment and type of public purpose influence the perceived justice of proposed takings. Data collection for these experiments is currently in progress.