Purpose and limitations in the use of Eminent Domain
“Eminent domain” is the power of the government to take private property from a citizen, even when that citizen refuses to voluntarily sell the property. In the United States, use of the eminent domain power is limited by the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which states that takings of private property must be “for public use” and the owner must be given “just compensation,” and by the Fourteenth Amendment, which applies the Bill of Rights to the fifty states. Traditional purposes for the eminent domain power have been building roads and public buildings, but it has become increasingly common for state or local governments to use the power for redevelopment projects.
Kelo v. City of New London was the Supreme Court case which established that eminent domain can be used for economic redevelopment projects.
The Superior Court of Connecticut had held because the corporation planned to restore park areas, increase jobs for the area, and restore residential living to the area, the city of New London’s seizure was a justifiable use of eminent domain power.
The city was not taking the land simply to benefit a certain group of private individuals, but was following an economic development plan. The takings here qualified as "public use" despite the fact that the land was not going to be used by the public.
I believe the petitioners against the city are correct since there was no immediate health, safety, or environmental protection and the taking of their properties violated the ‘public use’ restriction in the Fifth Amendment.
The Court’s review should have been far less deferential with respect to the eminent domain (the public use) questions posed by the case. Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the...