Research project posted by Rafael Gabrieli.
Eminent domain is the power to take private property for public use by a state or national government. There would be just compensation for the private property seized, however, many problems arise from this act. The way that eminent domain works is that it is backed by the Fifth Amendment to the US. Constitution, which is that your state government has power over all property in the State, even private land. The land can be taken without the consent of the owner, as long as he or she is justly compensated. The purposes for which eminent domain vary, however, it has to be used for a public good somehow. This means that roads, courthouses, schools, or any other infrastructure that can benefit the public will come into place of the land that the government took using eminent domain. The state government or national government is able to use eminent domain for large-scale public works operations or even growing freeway systems.
In Houston, Texas, land was obtained by the use of eminent domain in order to create the Minute Maid Park baseball stadium, which has benefitted the surrounding community immensely. The baseball stadium brings millions of people each year to downtown Houston. What is amazing to see is to compare it with the Houston community before the stadium was built, which was very barren and unsocial.
The I-85 widening project in Concord, North Carolina will reshape the way inhabitants travel around Concord. The inhabitants are being justly compensated, and some are even getting 5%-10% more than the initial appraisal value. This new freeway widening will allow traffic to be lessened during rush hours, which posed a big problem for the city during the past couple of years. It is a necessary and responsible use of eminent domain.
Private property could have sentimental value, like a house that has been in the family for generations. This is the case with the Keeler family from Claverack, New York, who lived in their house for four generations and were being forced out due to the state’s plan to expand power lines. Another problem with eminent domain is that the price that the owner feels he deserves is more than what is being offered to him. This happened to Rich Quam, owner of a house in Fargo, North Dakota since 1997. The town stated that his backyard could become structurally unstable, so the city offered him an amount to buy the property from him. Rich Quam declared it an insult however, because the amount did not reflect the years of hard work he put into renovating the house, adding a second level and a garage. A third problem is the simple desire to not want to abandon a profitable business, which almost occurred a couple years back to Perry Beaton, property co-owner of a Burger King that the city of North Kansas City was attempting to seize from him.
In Economic Justice for All, it is stated that the common good may sometimes demand that the right to own be limited by public involvement in the planning or ownership of certain sectors of the economy, which is essentially the basis for eminent domain. Catholic support of private ownership does not mean that anyone has the right to unlimited accumulation of wealth, rather, it states that “no one is justified in keeping for his exclusive use what he does not need, when others lack necessities.” Thus being the Catholic Social Teaching stance on Eminent Domain: if it is for the public good, an individual should be more than willing to give up his property that is not essential to his well-being in order to further the development of society and his surroundings.
Clayton, Adam. “Family Rallies to save Farmland from Eminent Domain.” Columbia-Greene Media. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
“Economic Justice for All.” Wall Common Good Selected Texts. N.p., n.d. Book. 10 Mar. 2016.
Lewis, David. “Eminent Domain: Still A Useful Tool Despite Its Recent Thrashing.” Planetizen. Planetizen, 5 Sept. 2006. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
Messina, Ignazio. “City Threatens Eminent Domain.” Toledo Blade. N.p., 26 Jan. 2014. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
Reaves, Tim. “Making Way for the Freeway: Eminent Domain Claims Homes.” Independent Tribune. Independent Tribune, 7 June 2015. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
Ross, John. “Hands Off! North Kansas City Loses Eminent Domain Case « Watchdog.org.” Watchdogorg RSS. N.p., 23 Jan. 2014. Web. 26 Jan. 2014.