Did you know that you can lose that house you worked so hard to have? Yes, you heard me right the government can take that home where you and your family have made so many memories. The fifth amendment protects the right to private property in two ways. First, it states that a person may not be deprived of property by the government without “due process of law,” or fair procedures. It also sets limits on the practice of eminent domain, eminent domain is when the government takes private property and turns in into private use such as a road. Under the fifth amendment, these takings must require “just compensation” at market value for the property seized. The second requirement under the fifth amendment is that the land is taken for public use. This limitation prevents government officials from taking private land for their own purposes. For Instance, a congressman could not take the home of a private citizen for his or her own use under eminent domain. Sometimes, however, courts rule otherwise which results in a private party possessing the land. This happens because it is beneficial to the local economy, for example, where a new neighborhood built in place of an old one. I am a strong believer in the government doing what is necessary in order to better our community. If the government feels like there is private property in the way of a new road, new school, new stores, better neighborhood, then I believe that the government should have the right under the eminent domain to take one’s property.
In my research of cases of properties that have been taken by the government, I found three. The first court case is Kelo v. City of New London, New London, a city in Connecticut, used its eminent domain authority to take a private property to sell to private developers. The city said that taking this property would help create jobs for the community and increase tax revenues. Susette Kelo and many others whose homes were taken took action by suing New London in court. The people claimed that their fifth amendment rights were violated; “without due process of law, nor shall private property be taken for public use” (Constitute). The homeowners also argued that taking private property to sell to private developers was not public use. The Connecticut supreme court ruled for New London which was very tragic for these homeowners, but very good for the public. Did the restriction against “Kelo v. City of New London,” constitute a “taking” in violation of the Fifth Amendment? My answer is no because, In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Judge John Paul Stevens, it was ruled that the city’s taking of private property to sell for private development qualified as a public use. Under eminent domain, the city was not taking the land simply to benefit a certain group, but was following an economic development plan.
The second court case was Berman v. Parker, In 1945, Congress passed the District of Columbia Redevelopment Act, creating the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency, whose purpose would be to identify and redevelop blighted areas of Washington, D.C. Berman and the other appellants owned a department store in an area which was targeted by the commission and objected to the seizing of their property only for making improvements to the area. The owners brought a civil suit in federal district court challenging the fifth amendment; “without due process of law, nor shall private property be taken for public use” (Constitute). Their case was dismissed. Did the restriction against “Berman v. Parker,” constitute a ‘taking’ in violation of the Fifth Amendment? My answer is no because, In a unanimous opinion by Justice William O. Douglas, the Court found that the Fifth Amendment does not limit Congress power to take private property with just money to any specific purpose. The court’s final decision was that the power to determine what values to consider in taking the property for public welfare is Congress alone.
The third and final court case is Penn Central Transportation Company v. New York City, The New York City Landmarks Preservation Law of 1965 empowered the city to designate certain structures and neighborhoods as “landmarks” or “landmark sites.” Penn Central was the owner of Grand Central Terminal which was opened in 1913, Penn Central then submitted two proposals for building designs to the New York City Commission and applied for permission to construct an office building above Grand Central Terminal, which was denied because it was a historical landmark. Did the restriction against “Penn Central Transportation Company v. New York City,” constitute a “taking” in violation of the fifth amendment? My answer is no because the court held the restrictions imposing that Penn Central would never construct above the terminal in the future. New York’s objection was aimed at the purpose of the construction and not to construction in general. Saying that this construction in a historical landmark was a reasonable restriction to a significant extent related to the general welfare of the city.
If I put myself on the opposing side and picture myself as a person losing my property, an opposing argument can be losing the home I have worked so hard to keep. If I have worked really hard for years and invest thousands of dollars in my home, a place where my family has grown up in and a place where they also call home, for this to be taken from me would be really tragic. Another argument can be abused. After paying your home off the government buys your property, paying you what is determined to be fair market value. The problem with this is that for most people there is no price worth seeing there home be taken from them. Another reasonable argument that can be talked about is the dramatic change that occurs during the process of finding another home. What if there are no homes in the area that you lived in, this means that one has to move to a different location, and this can affect the children the most because moving away from friends, and a place where they feel comfortable can be very traumatic and scary, also what if the move to another location affect a stable job getting one fired. This now brings income problems to the household which makes everything worse.
However, there is a positive side to properties being taken from people. One positive thing about eminent domain is that it is used to build roads. The advantages of this are that the road is free from digs and safe for driving. A well-structured road ensures fewer obstacles. It also makes the driver happy while driving, low noise due to the lack of traffic jams, save money and lack of accidental rates. It makes the community safer which makes everyone happy. Another benefit could be building a new school, There is nothing more important than the education that we provide to the children. A new school also provides many jobs in the teaching staff, lunch staff, cleaning staff, there are so many openings for the people in our community to get involved in our children’s road to their future, also schools attract families looking for affordable education for their children. The more kids enrolling in these schools means an increase in population, businesses soon follow right behind, boosting the local economy and creating new homes. The last positive affect and another benefit is the upgrade in the neighborhoods, an upgrade and the creation of new neighborhoods makes a strong and better community. This attracts people looking for a safe and comfortable place to live.
In my introduction, I stated, “I believe that the government should have the right under the eminent domain to take one’s property.” I strongly agree with this statement and I have stated evidence in the text backing my claim. When the government does take private property for public use it is for the best, and I am a strong believer in bettering the community.