Eminent domain is a U.S. legal term referring to the state’s power to take private property from landowners without their consent. The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly refer to eminent domain, but the premise underlying the Fifth Amendment is that the government has that power: “Private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Recent U.S. Supreme Court interpretations of this clause and the limits it puts on governmental powers pose legal and ethical questions for both the government and the owners of private property, whether businesspeople or homeowners. The original conception of public use was that the government should not take private property unless that property was to be used by the public. In addition to the underlying presumption that ...

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