Law Quarterly

Eminent Domain: A Clause that’s Regaining Relevancy


How would you feel if one day the government came knocking on your door and told you that they were seizing your property for a new development? I’m sure you would be a bit shocked. However, this all can be a reality because of a clause in the 5th amendment. It states “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This statement alludes to a preexisting notion of eminent domain, where a sovereign government may seize private property for public use. Like many other parts of the constitution, there can be a couple key words that hold very important meaning and that are open to interpretation. In regards to eminent domain, I am of course speaking of “Just compensation”. Some powerful influences have attempted and succeeded at times in using those two words to pressure the government into exercising its constitutional ability of eminent domain. For better and sometimes worse eminent domain is used and it has become a contentious issue. (more…)