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Pass a Law, Any Law, Fast! State Legislative Responses to the Kelo Backlash


  • Lopez Edward J.

    (Department of Economics, San José State University)

  • Jewell R. Todd

    (Department of Economics, University of North Texas)

  • Campbell Noel D.

    (EFIRM, University of Central Arkansas)


In Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court left it to the states to protect property against takings for economic development. Since Kelo, thirty-seven states have enacted legislation to update their eminent domain laws. This paper is the first to theoretically and empirically analyze the factors that influence whether, in what manner, and how quickly states change their laws through new legislation. Fourteen of the thirty-seven new laws offer only weak protections against development takings. The legislative response to Kelo was responsive to measures of the backlash but only in the binary decision whether to pass any new law. The decision to enact a meaningful restriction was more a function of relevant political economy measures. States with more economic freedom, greater value of new housing construction, and less racial and income inequality are more likely to have enacted stronger restrictions, and sooner. Of the thirteen states that have not updated, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Mississippi are highly likely to do so in the future. Hawaii, Massachusetts and New York are unlikely to update at all.

Suggested Citation

  • Lopez Edward J. & Jewell R. Todd & Campbell Noel D., 2009. "Pass a Law, Any Law, Fast! State Legislative Responses to the Kelo Backlash," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 101-135, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:rlecon:v:5:y:2009:i:1:n:5

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Adanu, Kwami & Hoehn, John P. & Norris, Patricia & Iglesias, Emma, 2012. "Voter decisions on eminent domain and police power reforms," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 187-194.
    2. López Edward J. & Clark J.R., 2013. "The Problem with the Holdout Problem," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(2), pages 151-167, September.
    3. Cadigan, John & Schmitt, Pamela & Shupp, Robert & Swope, Kurtis, 2011. "The holdout problem and urban sprawl: Experimental evidence," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 72-81, January.
    4. Laura Rae Dove, 2016. "Introducing the Moral Foundations of Capitalism in Undergraduate Business Law and Ethics Courses Using Kelo v. City of New London," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 31(Summer 20), pages 87-95.
    5. Paul F. Byrne, 2017. "Have Post-Kelo Restrictions on Eminent Domain Influenced State Economic Development?," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 31(1), pages 81-91, February.
    6. Hoehn, John P. & Adanu, Kwami, 2014. "What motivates voters’ support for eminent domain reform: Ownership, vulnerability, or ideology?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 90-99.

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