Planning as Public Use?

29 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2007 Last revised: 22 Dec 2007


This short Essay explores the Supreme Court's suggestion in Kelo v. New London that public, participatory planning may be a constitutional safe harbor that separates impermissible private takings from presumptively valid public ones. After briefly reviewing the Court's discussion of the planning that preceded the Kelo litigation, the Essay examines how Kelo's emphasis on planning departs from standard rational basis review of economic policies and asks what such a departure means for future public-use litigants. The Essay then explores three possible practical benefits of a constitutional rule that encourages the government to engage in detailed planning before exercising the power of eminent domain: First, can public, participatory planning help legitimize so-called economic-development takings? Second, was the Court correct to assume that planning will limit pretextual takings, i.e., the taking of private property in the name of economic development but for the true purpose of benefiting a private individual? And third, will careful planning by the government lead to more successful projects?

Keywords: eminent domain, Kelo, takings, economic development, planning

JEL Classification: H70, K11

Suggested Citation

Garnett, Nicole Stelle, Planning as Public Use?. Ecology Law Quarterly, Vol. 34, 2007, Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 07-01, Available at SSRN:

Nicole Stelle Garnett (Contact Author)

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States
574-631-3091 (Phone)


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