Justice Thomas's Kelo Dissent: The Perilous and Political Nature of Public Purpose

26 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2016

See all articles by Carol Necole Brown

Carol Necole Brown

University of Richmond School of Law

Date Written: March 31, 2016


The exercise of eminent domain in the United States has victimized politically disadvantaged groups like minorities and the poor the most. As Professor Ilya Somin aptly noted in his recent book, The Grasping Hand, "[w}ealthy and politically connected property owners rarely suffer from economic development ... takings, because politicians and developers are usually savvy enough to avoid targeting them." Whether it is government taking private property for highways, roads, or schools, the common thread that weaves through all of these examples -- from the beginning of the country until now -- is that political actors have always decided whose property was to be taken. Since the beginning of time, the least powerful groups have always had the least political influence. And, people with the least political power are the people who pay the price of eminent domain.

Keywords: Eminent domain, poor, disadvantage, takings, public use, public purpose, economic development, condemnation, condemn, redevelopment, countermajoritarian, Kelo, hold out

Suggested Citation

Brown, Carol Necole, Justice Thomas's Kelo Dissent: The Perilous and Political Nature of Public Purpose (March 31, 2016). George Mason Law Review, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2757046

Carol Necole Brown (Contact Author)

University of Richmond School of Law ( email )

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