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The Grasping Hand"Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain$
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Ilya Somin

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226256603

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226256740.001.0001

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The Perils of Public Purpose

The Perils of Public Purpose

(p.73) Chapter Three The Perils of Public Purpose
The Grasping Hand

Ilya Somin

University of Chicago Press

This chapter outlines the harms caused by blight and economic development takings enabled by the court’s endorsement of the broad definition of public use. Such takings often destroy more economic value than they create. Since the 1940s, they have forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of people, often victimizing the poor, racial minorities, and those with little political influence. The terrible effects of blight and economic development takings strengthen the case for interpreting the Fifth Amendment to ban them under a variety of “living constitution” theories of constitutional interpretation. These include representation-reinforcement theory (which emphasizes the need for judicial intervention to protect groups that cannot fend for themselves in the political process), popular constitutionalism, common law constitutionalism, and Ronald Dworkin’s moral theory of interpretation.

Keywords:   Blight, economic development, Ronald Dworkin, Bruce Ackerman, popular constitutionalism, living constitution, common law constitutionalism, holdout

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