Polemics & Exchanges

On Eminent Domain

The articles in the January 2006 issue of Chronicles (“The Promise of American Life: Small Is Beautiful”) concerning eminent domain and corporate development in the name of public good are characterized by political acumen and cogent cultural observations.  Their strong criticisms are warranted.  I recall Charles Péguy’s reply when someone quoted to him the Gospel warning against judging: “I don’t judge; I blame.”

Scott P. Richert’s analysis in “Think Locally, Act Locally” (Views) of Kelo v. City of New London in the context of “New Federalism” treats well the constitutional implications of the decision and its practical effects at the state level, underlining how powerful commercial interests can take advantage of the new, broader application of the eminent-domain clause.  Tom Landess’s summary in “Outgrowing the Past” (Views) of the federal seizure of private properties along the Savannah River in 1951 is similarly useful, emphasizing the effects on citizens whose property was condemned.  As vast public...

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