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Justification of necessity: A requirement for eminent domain

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Eminent Domain |

Eminent domain is the process by which the government can take private property to use for public projects. Common examples include putting in an interstate or building a highway overpass. As public infrastructure expands, property sometimes has to be used and can be taken from the owner by the government. The government then pays a fair price for that land so that the former landowner is not left with nothing.

This is still controversial. Many landowners do not want to sell, even for a fair price. Still others believe that they have not actually been given a fair price. But there’s another part of the equation to consider. The government also has to provide a justification for the necessity of the project.

Public use

First of all, the Fifth Amendment is involved in the eminent domain process. It states that the land can only be obtained by the government if it is for public use.

In other words, government officials cannot take someone’s property because they want to build their own home there or because they want to open a business at that location. They are not allowed to use their governmental power in this fashion. They have to show that the project is going to be beneficial to the public and that the benefit outweighs the property owner’s desire to keep their land.

This is why interstates are a common example. The interstate highway system is known to be faster and more efficient than smaller roads. Providing safe and effective transportation is something that the government takes very seriously, and the road will be used by millions of other people.

Still, there may be disputes over what is truly necessary, what a fair price looks like or why the land can be taken by the government. Those who are involved in this process need to be sure they understand all of their legal options.