Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Fall 12-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Political Science


Throughout the past decade, the idea of overreaching government policy has sparked a disconcerting impression among the American people. Is it true that the government can take private property for the benefit of private interests? After the Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London (2005), a public firestorm erupted, sparking massive public and political discourse that rocked the sphere of property rights nationwide. Although much of the scrutiny was critical, there were those that attempted to illustrate not only the importance of eminent domain, but the damage that excessive limitation through public policy might cause.

The purpose of this essay is to identify whether eminent domain is for the public benefit, or a government intrusion on one of the most fundamental rights: private property. The concept of eminent domain stretches back to the Norman Conquests, and has deep roots in the founding of the United States. Although legally, most identify eminent domain with the Kelo ruling, its initial decent into the judicial system came in 1954. Since then, the Court has merely reiterated its foremost decision; however, critics, on the one hand, are quick to point out inadequacies with current condemnation actions, such as a potential violation of equal protection rights. Proponents, on the other hand, describe eminent domain as an important function of government and societal well-being. Nevertheless, the analysis concludes that eminent domain policy, as with any administrative procedure, has room for improvement.