Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Eminent Domain Revisited

I just can't get enough eminent domain. Last week in my Law & Economics class I heard an interesting "take" on eminent domain takings; essentially:

If a non-government entity takes your property, it is settled with an injuction or property rule (it's criminal and you'll likely get arrested). But if the government takes your property, it is settled by compensating you for damages, i.e., with a liability rule. They pay you "just compensation" for your loss of property, but they have NOT committed a crime.

This has interesting (read: profoundly inconsistent) implications as some have recognized:

"I honestly don't see why I only get constitutional protection in the form of a property [rule] from a search of my home but not the tearing down of my home for the benefit of a private developer (as Justice Thomas observed in his dissent)"

This is not the country I signed up for. I want a new one.

P.S. I realize I've skimmed over some of the details like the process required for govt to take private property. I feel OK about this since the whole process seems arbitrary to me and since it hasn't proven to be a huge obstacle for determined local governments.

It is a nice and interesting double standard established here. Quite convenient really
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