Eminent Domain


Eminent domain refers to the power of the government to take private property and convert it into public use. The Fifth Amendment provides that the government may only exercise this power if they provide just compensation to the property owners. 

Just Compensation Requirement:

In Kohl v. United States, 91 U.S. 367 (1875), the Supreme Court held that the government may seize property through the use of eminent domain, as long as it appropriates just compensation to the owner of the property. In Loretto v. Teleprompter Manhattan CATV Corp. 458 US 419 (1982), the Supreme Court clarified that when the government engages in a taking and implements a permanent physical occupation of the property, it must provide the property owner with just compensation, even if the area is small and the government's use does not greatly affect the owner's economic interest.

Public Use Requirement:

In Kelo v. City of New London, Connecticut, 545 U.S. 469 (2005), the Supreme Court held that general benefits which a community would enjoy from the furthering of economic development is sufficient to qualify as a "public use." 

Further Reading:

For more on eminent domain, see this Cornell Law Review article, this University of Michigan Law Review article, and this New York Law Journal article