US citizens enjoy the right to life, liberty, and property without irrational government interference. However, the government may, under certain circumstances, take ownership with or without permission.
What is eminent domain?
Eminent domain is the power of the government to take private land for public use under certain circumstances. The power of eminent domain is defined by the Fifth Amendment “Takings Clause” of the US Constitution, which prohibits the federal government from taking private property for public use “without just compensation.” This clause also applies to state and local governments through the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The Acceptance Clause does not grant the government permission to take any land it wishes. On the contrary, it serves as a limit to government power by requiring that an outlet only occurs if the land is for “public use” and in exchange for fair compensation.
When the government acquires private land, this is known as “seizure,” in contrast to a property seizure that occurs when the property owner commits certain types of crimes or leaves the property. There are different categories of recipes:
- A complete outlet is when the entire property is purchased.
- A partial takeover occurs when only part of the property is required.
- A temporary takeover occurs if ownership is required only for a specific period.
It is important to note that the definition of “takeover” includes more than just government acquisition of property. It also includes government actions that also impact land in some way, including development plans which change the way property can be utilized.
How Eminent Domain Works?
If the government is planning an expansion or a public works project that needs to acquire private property to complete the project, the government initiates the eminent domain legal process, which is known as a conviction. The details of the conviction process vary from state to state, but the necessary steps are consistent.
Typically, the government negotiates a deal to buy land from the private owner. If the owner agrees to the price offered, the parties can avoid the court altogether. The government then issues a payment in exchange for the land deed. If the landlord and the government disagree on the selling price of the property, the parties must attend a hearing to address the disputed fair market value of the land.
If the landlord refuses entirely to sell the property, the government can file a lawsuit and publish a public notice of the hearing. At this hearing, the government must prove that it has attempted to negotiate a sale and that the outlet is for “public use.” The owner has the opportunity to object and offer evidence. It is not uncommon for both parties to provide expert testimony on the issue of valuation.
Essential Facts You Should Know About Eminent Domain
1. Eminent domain is an inherent sovereign right:
The Constitution did not give the sovereign the right to take private property by eminent domain. This right pre-exists any Constitution. It is an elementary and intrinsic right of the sovereign, which includes both the federal and state government.
2. Many municipalities, public authorities, and public services are not sovereign:
That means: the only eminent domain rights they have is what a sovereign has delegated to them. If one of these entities makes an eminent domain, which exceeds the scope of what the sovereign has delegated, the eminent domain is invalid and invalidated.
3. The Fifth Amendment – In 1791, the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution.
The Bill of Rights is referred to as providing “anti-majority” or individual protections against the overwhelming power of the sovereign. (It was called a revolution for a reason). The last 12 words of the 5th Amendment provide only some of these protections from the sovereign exercise of its eminent dominance power.
4. “Private property,” not individuals, has eminent domain rights:
Important Fifth Amendment domain protections extend not only to individuals, but they also extend to all “private property.” The entire 5th Amendment consists of only one sentence. It starts with the words “Nobody,” repeats this sentence and conveys most of the Amendment. But then the last clause, the eminent domain clause that the wording changes, and the object of the last clause, and what is now protected is the “private property.”
5. “Public Use” and “Compensation Only”:
The two primary protections contained in the 5th Amendment consist of only two words. But to quote a great American poet a little out of context, these two-word phrases “contain crowds.” Entire libraries are full of jurisprudence and legal decisions interpreting these sentences, as you might expect. Much depends on what they mean and how applicable they are to “facts on the ground.”
6. Just Compensation:
Just compensation = fair pay. It seems quite clear, but it has generated much litigation. The Constitution seems silent to the word “just,” considering it must be analyzed by the owner of private property or by the government? Nor is it evident in its face what “fair compensation” encompasses. There must be a cash payment in all cases of eminent domain, even if only part of a property undergoes the process. The take increases the value of the remaining land, to make the value of that remaining land more significant than the value of the property. Original. Portion? Does the subjective opinion of a privately owned owner about the “unique value” of occupied land have a role to play? These and other issues are often the subjects of dispute and litigation.
7. Due process and equal protection:
As we all know, these two robust constitutional protections also exist, and they can also apply to imminent takeover. In short, how the sovereign makes otherwise appropriate use of “public use” can sometimes be of crucial importance. Did the sovereign follow the proper procedures? Have all your citizens been treated equally in the underlying processes that led to the taking? Thus, while the sovereign’s eminent domain power is quite broad, these additional constitutional rights are not eliminated. They may, under certain circumstances, provide additional protections for a privately owned owner.
Finally, eminent domain is one of those areas of law where subject matter experts are often crucial in proving a case, whether you are a property owner or your representative, or working on behalf of the receiving entity. Not only can there be doubt about whether a takeover has occurred, Ie, in the “regulatory takeover” scenario. But often there are significant “fair compensation” issues that require the assistance of engineers, environmental scientists, bond specialists, and others. Anything that might affect land use, and its value is at stake when an eminent domain occurs.