“The inherent power of a governmental entity to take privately owned property, esp. land, and convert it to public use, subject to reasonable compensation for the taking.” The Eminent Domain Clause is the “Fifth Amendment provision providing that private property cannot be taken for public use without just compensation.” Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014). The last clause of the Fifth Amendment states: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
Kelo v. New London (2005)
Kelo v. New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005) is a very controversial case involving the constitutionality of the condemnation of fifteen private properties by the city of New London, Connecticut, to implement a redevelopment plan. The goal of the plan was to transfer the condemned land to private developers, who promised to promote economic growth in the depressed area. But the government made no showing that the private properties were “blighted or otherwise in poor condition.” The United States Supreme Court held that the city's taking of private property to sell for private development qualified as a "public use" within the meaning of the takings clause. According to the Court, because the city was following a redevelopment plan and was not taking the land simply to benefit a certain group of private individuals, these justifications for taking the land should be given deference. The takings qualified as "public use" despite the fact that the land was not going to be used by the public. The Court ruled that the Fifth Amendment did not require "literal" public use, but the "broader and more natural interpretation of public use as 'public purpose.'"