“Just compensation” “Eminent Domain”
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Introducing Public Administration
Prof. Terrence Harris
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. The Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in eleven states. It went into effect on March 4, 1789. When the First Congress met in 1789, James Madison, a congressman from Virginia, took upon himself the task of drafting a proposed Bill of Rights. The first ten constitutional amendments ratified by three-fourths of the states in 1791 are known as the Bill of Rights. The 5th Amendment's Eminent Domain Clause says that the government cannot take away anyone's private property for public use without giving them just compensation in return. You will find some cases where the eminent domain clause has been utilized to make sure that the law according to the constitution is being applied fairly.
The United States Constitutional Convention (also known as the Philadelphia Convention) took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and although the Convention was purportedly intended only to revise the Articles of Confederation, the intention from the outset of many of its proponents, chief among them James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, was to create a new government rather than fix the existing one. Due to the difficulty of travel in the late 18th century, very few of the selected delegates were present on the designated day of May 14, 1787, and it was not until May 25 that a quorum of seven states was secured. The convention convened in the Pennsylvania State House, and George Washington was unanimously elected as president of the convention. In September 17, 1787, is when the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia agreed on the final draft of the Constitution and sent it to Congress with the recommendation that it be sent to the states for ratification. When the colonies started to set up their own individual governments after the Declaration of Independence in 1776, they took it for granted that a state constitution should include a bill of rights. In 1776, as fighting broke out, Virginia quickly called a convention and established a committee to work out a government for the state. The committee included some familiar names such as James Madison, Edmund Randolph, and George Mason. “Although a number of men on the committee had ideas about what should go into a bill of rights, it was a draft produced by George Mason…and eventually became a major model for the national bill…George Mason is…referred as the father of the Bill of Rights” (Collier, 334)
The Bill of Rights was not included in the Constitution submitted to the states for ratification, but many states ratified it anyway with the understanding that a bill of rights would soon follow. 39 of the 55 delegates ended up signing the final draft of the Constitution, but it is likely that none were completely satisfied. During the debates on the adoption of the Constitution, its opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution. They demanded a "bill of rights" that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several state conventions in their formal ratification of the Constitution asked for such amendments; others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered.
Thomas Jefferson, as the author of the Declaration of Independence, is arguably the one American most closely identified with the necessity of protecting human rights. His initial reaction to the Constitution serves as an appropriate starting point…