Canton, Ohio Newspaper Article Discusses Condemnation Issues

In a report on the Bill of Rights, the covered what has occurred in eminent domain proceedings in the Canton area.

The article begins with the balanced thought that sometimes there is a public use and property needs to be taken. However, the issue of just compensation is one in which the article describes many circumstances in which the offers clearly were simply too low.

You can fight progress — though you probably will lose.

Of all protections provided within the wide-ranging Fifth Amendment, the most controversial piece may be its final 12 words: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”  

Obviously, founding fathers recognized situations when the government should be permitted to forcefully buy private property. Over the years, the U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to define the breadth and depth of those powers.

Clearly, governments can use eminent domain (forceful purchase) authority to acquire land to make way for such tangible projects as highways or easements for utilities. But what if a city’s leaders want to buy homes and buildings because they’re deemed “slums?” Or, perhaps to clear a path for a private developer to build something new?

Can a government do that?

In short, the answer is “yes.”