Kelo v. City of New London: An Analysis Using, Well, An Ancient Source
From frequent contributor and honorary Hedgehog Ralph Kostant:
The majority opinion in Kelo v. City of New London neglected to cite this important precedent for for a government taking private property for the benefit of another private party:
1 Kings 21
1 Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of
Ahab king of Sama'ria.
2 And after this Ahab said to Naboth, "Give me your vineyard, that I may have
it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; and I will give you a
better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value
3 But Naboth said to Ahab, "The LORD forbid that I should give you the
inheritance of my fathers."
4 And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the
Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, "I will not give you the
inheritance of my fathers." And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his
face, and would eat no food.
5 But Jez'ebel his wife came to him, and said to him, "Why is your spirit so
vexed that you eat no food?"
6 And he said to her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite, and said to
him, 'Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it please you, I will give
you another vineyard for it'; and he answered, 'I will not give you my
7 And Jez'ebel his wife said to him, "Do you now govern Israel? Arise, and
eat bread, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of
Naboth the Jezreelite."
8 So she wrote letters in Ahab's name and sealed them with his seal, and she
sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who dwelt with Naboth in his city.
9 And she wrote in the letters, "Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high
among the people;
10 and set two base fellows opposite him, and let them bring a charge against
him, saying, 'You have cursed God and the king.' Then take him out, and stone
him to death."
11 And the men of his city, the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city,
did as Jez'ebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters which
she had sent to them,
12 they proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.
13 And the two base fellows came in and sat opposite him; and the base
fellows brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying,
"Naboth cursed God and the king." So they took him outside the city, and stoned
him to death with stones.
14 Then they sent to Jez'ebel, saying, "Naboth has been stoned; he is dead."
15 As soon as Jez'ebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead,
Jez'ebel said to Ahab, "Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the
Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but
16 And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to
the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
Legal commentary: Actually, this is not so much legal precedent as a supporting argument for the majority holding in Kelo. If Kelo already had been decided in the time of King Ahab, Ahab and Jezebel would not have found it necessary to construct a plot against Naboth. They simply could have taken his vineyard and paid him the money that Ahab had offered. Naboth, like the petitioners in Kelo, would have lost his family property, but he would be alive and compensated.
See, however, the dissenting opinion in this case by God, the Prophet Elijah concurring.
Ralph B. Kostant