Sunday, August 8, 2004


Al Tompkins writes:

The old idea of eminent domain was that cities, states, and federal government could take property that was needed for "the public good" such as roadways, parks, and sewer lines. But now governments are taking land and handing it over to other private owners. (Poynter Institute, 07/20/04.)

My question is: what's the "public good"? I wonder about the origin of the word "emiment domain."

At least in Michigan they understand the meaning of property rights. From Detroit Free Press:

In Hathcock v. Wayne County, the court overturned a 1981 case that allowed Detroit to bulldoze a Polish neighborhood to make room for a General Motors Corp. plant. The Poletown case is cited by state courts nationwide in allowing governments to condemn private property and give it to businesses for "public use." Numerous legal textbooks also mention Poletown. (, 08/07/04.)

From the Institute for Justice:

According to Dana Berliner, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, which filed a brief in the Hathcock case, the case has profound nationwide implications. “Poletown was the first major case allowing condemnation of areas in the name of jobs and taxes. It is cited in every property textbook in the country. The Court literally rewrote the book with this decision,” said Berliner. The use of eminent domain for private development has become increasingly common throughout the United States. According to Public Power, Private Gain, authored by Berliner, there were 10,000 properties either taken or threatened with eminent domain for private parties in the U.S. between 1998 and 2002. And state supreme courts from Nevada to Connecticut have relied on the Poletown decision when upholding the condemnation of land for private parties. (, 07/31/04.)

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