Eminent Domain: Public Use Or Abuse?

Submitted By rbrewer2013
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Eminent Domain: Public Use or Abuse?

The urban economy has become increasingly competitive. As a result, economic development projects have made priority on the agenda in many cities. Because today’s top issue in cities is jobs, politicians are using eminent domain powers to create jobs and businesses. Hulen describes eminent domain as the seizing of private property by the government without the consent of the owner. National and local governments are using the power of eminent domain to create recreational infrastructure to entertain visitors versus factories that would provide resources to its immediate residents – the impoverished. Consequently, the working-class and small homeowners’ civil liberties are being abused at the expense of the wealthy.
State governments should impose strong limitations on the ability of cities to use eminent domain powers for economic development purposes. Homeowners – usually politically unprotected city-dwellers- are having their houses apprehended with the main beneficiaries being the wealthy and the homeowner receiving inadequate compensation. The government has expanded the power of eminent domain for multiple purposes – even though the constitution only allows eminent domain for “public use.” It has allowed the eminent domain power to be applied to various political figures and situations. (Wasserman 245) The practice is unconstitutional. It has created many problems as Kelo v. New London 2005 exemplifies. The practice is not only unconstitutional, but unethical. There should be regulations for eminent domain on the local and federal level to serve as a type of protection from this corrupt power.
Eminent Domain victimizes the vulnerable. Seized homes are mainly in the cities. Statistics show that most homeownership is not in the cities, but in suburbia. These homeowners have more of an incentive to vote for policy than the city-dwellers. (Koehler 2008) Because the city-dwellers do not have much incentive to vote, they are not politically active, thus making them politically underrepresented. They lie defenseless to all policy as their voice is silenced. Although politicians did not personally disenfranchise this population, they are taking advantage of the population’s muteness.
Moreover, takers are not adequately compensating the owners. “The fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that whenever privately owned land is taken by the government under eminent domain, ‘just’ compensation must be paid.” (Miceli 359) However, as Daniel Kelly explains, private parties that directly profit from taking can largely benefit from while paying little for acquired properties. Such is a very serious problem. Mandelker goes as far as to say that “no constitutional problem has proved more contentious in land use regulation than the taking issue.” Furthermore, “evidence from urban renewal supports the hypotheses that, due to the structure of court costs, high-valued properties receive more than market value and low-valued properties receive less than market value as described by Munch. Basically, the wealthier benefit more from eminent domain while the poor suffer from this power. The current system in which eminent domain compensation is distributed is unjust.
There are three ways that Takers minimize compensation. The first is that they avoid high-subject-value properties. The second is they allocate most compensation in the form of relocation assistance. The third is that the taker and property owner voluntarily settle on above-market compensation during pre-condemnation negotiations. (Garnett 203) Thus, there is no economic redevelopment or public good being brought with eminent domain. The government can no longer use such as an excuse to allow such power to exist. It is strictly a resource for affluent business owners.
Eminent domain hinders economic growth and advancement for the cities. “A theoretical analysis of land assembly with and without eminent domain concludes that,