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Property Law and Real Estate

2004

Vanderbilt University Law School

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Public Ruses, Christopher Serkin, James E. Krier Jan 2004

Public Ruses, Christopher Serkin, James E. Krier

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The Fifth Amendment's public use requirement - a dead letter for decades - has recently been resurrected by the Michigan Supreme Court, overruling Poletown, and by the United States Supreme Court, granting certiorari in Kelo v. City of New London. At issue in these cases is the government's ability to condemn property from one private property owner and retransfer it to another, usually with a justification of more-or-less indirect economic benefits to the community. This Essay first argues the legitimacy of these government actions exists on a spectrum from true public uses, to public ruses that primarily benefit private interests …