A Gleeful Obituary for Poletown Neighborhood Council v. Detroit

24 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2005  

Timothy Sandefur

Goldwater Institute

Abstract

The Michigan Supreme Court's decision in Wayne County v. Hathcock overruling Poletown Neighborhood Council v. Detroit represents a major victory for property owners across America. Poletown greatly broadened the scope of the eminent domain power, enabling government to seize land for the benefit of private corporations instead of for the public use[s] referred to in the state Constitution. Since then, many state and federal courts embraced similar ideology, holding that any use the Legislature declared a public benefit qualified as a public use. This unleashed a rash of broad scope condemnations at the expense of property owners. The Hathcock court's decision sends a clear message that this abuse of eminent domain must be stopped and challenges victims of eminent domain abuse to fight back, despite powerful private interest obstacles. This article discusses the background and importance of Hathcock and some of the important matters that must be addressed to further rein in the extreme government power of eminent domain.

Keywords: poletown, wayne county v. hathcock, eminent domain, public use, condemnation, takings, general motors, kelo

JEL Classification: K11

Suggested Citation

Sandefur, Timothy, A Gleeful Obituary for Poletown Neighborhood Council v. Detroit. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 28, p. 651, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=656101

Timothy Sandefur (Contact Author)

Goldwater Institute ( email )

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