Eminent Domain

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Definition of 'Eminent Domain'

Eminent domain is the power of a government to take private property for public use, with just compensation. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that "private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Eminent domain is often used to build roads, schools, hospitals, and other public projects. However, it can also be used for private development, such as shopping malls and office buildings.

The government must follow a specific process when taking private property through eminent domain. First, it must identify the property that it needs. Then, it must notify the property owner and offer to buy the property at a fair price. If the property owner refuses to sell, the government can go to court and ask a judge to order the property to be taken.

The judge will consider several factors when deciding whether to order the property to be taken, including the public need for the project, the fair market value of the property, and the impact of the taking on the property owner.

If the judge orders the property to be taken, the government must pay the property owner the fair market value of the property. The fair market value is the price that a willing buyer would pay a willing seller in an arm's-length transaction.

Eminent domain is a controversial power. Some people believe that it is a necessary tool for the government to build important public projects. Others believe that it is a violation of private property rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that eminent domain is constitutional, but it has also placed limits on the government's power to take private property. For example, the government cannot take private property for a purely private purpose, such as to build a shopping mall. The government must also show that there is a public need for the project and that the taking is the least intrusive way to achieve that need.

Eminent domain is a complex issue with no easy answers. However, it is an important power that the government has to build important public projects.

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