eminent domain – the power of a government to authorize the taking of private property for a public use or public purpose without the owner’s consent, conditioned upon the payment of a just compensation

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eminent domain:

1. The inherent power of a government entity to take privately owned property, especially land, and convert it to public use, subject to reasonable compensation for the taking. — aka (rarely) compulsory purchase; (in Scots law) compulsory surrender; (in Australia) compulsory acquisition.

1. The power of the nation or a sovereign state to take, or to authorize the taking of, private property for a public use without the owner’s consent, conditioned upon the payment of a just compensation. 26 Am J2d Em D § 1.

The theory of such power, otherwise known  as compulsory purchase or expropriation, is that all lands are held mediately or immediately from the state, upon the implied condition that the eminent domain, the superior dominion, remains in the state, authorizing it to take the same for public uses, when necessity requires it, by paying therefor an equivalent in money.  it resembles the ancient prerogative of purveyance whereby the crown enjoyed the right of buying up provisions and other necessaries of  the use of the royal household at an appraised valuation, and in preference to all others, even without the consent of the owner. Re Barre Water Co. 62 Vt 27, 30 A 109.
     See condemnation; just compensation; public use. [2]

1. The power of the government to take private property for a public use or public purpose without the owner’s consent, if it pays just compensation.  The process by which this is done is called condemnation. 
     Also see expropriation; taking. [3]

     Excerpt from John E. Nowak & Ronald D. Rotunda’s Constitutional Law § 11.11, at 424-25 (4th ed. 1991) (quoting Bauman v. Ross, 167 U.S. 548, 574, 17 S.Ct. 966. (18971):

     “The term ’eminent domain’ is said to have originated with Grotius, the seventeenth century legal scholar.  Grotius believe that the state possessed the power to take or destroy property for the benefit of the social unity, but he believed that when the state so acted, it was obligated to compensate the injured property owner for his losses.  Blackstone, too, believed that society had no general power to take the private property of landowners, except on the payment of a reasonable price.  The just compensation clause of the fifth amendment to the Constitution was built upon this concept of a moral obligation to pay for governmental interference with private property…. No provision for the power of eminent domain appears in the federal Constitution.  The Supreme Court, however, has said that the power of eminent domain is an incident of federal sovereignty and an ‘offspring of political necessity.’  The Court has also noted that the fifth amendment’s limitation on taking private property is a tacit recognition that the power to take private property exists.” [4]

Eminent Domain Clause (1903) The Fifth Amendment provision providing that the private property cannot be taken for public use without just compensation. [1]

Takings Clause (1955) The Fifth Amendment provision that prohibits the government from taking private property for public use without fairly compensating the owner. — aka Just Compensation Clause. [1]

“Blighted Area” on Black’s Law Dictionary:  http://thelawdictionary.org/blighted-area/



Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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