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Berman v. Parker

Significance, Rebuilding The Nation's Capital, There Are No Limits On The Public's Needs


Berman and other owners of a department store in Washington, D.C.


The National Capital Planning Commission, the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency

Appellants' Claim

The government's taking of their store was unconstitutional because it was contrary to the guarantees of the Fifth Amendment.

Chief Lawyers for Appellants

James C. Toomey, Joseph H. Schneider, Albert Ginsberg

Chief Lawyer for Appellees

Simon Sobeloff, Solicitor General

Justices for the Court

Hugo Lafayette Black, Harold Burton, Tom C. Clark, William O. Douglas (writing for the Court), Felix Frankfurter, Sherman Minton, Stanley Forman Reed, Earl Warren

Justices Dissenting

None (John Marshall Harlan II not yet appointed)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

22 November 1954


Congress and its agencies (which functioned as the District's local government) may take appellants' department store and the land as long as they pay compensation to the owners.

Related Cases

  • Penn Central Transportation Co. v. New York City, 438 U.S. 104 (1978).
  • Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229 (1984).

Further Readings

  • Ball, Howard, and Philip Cooper. Of Power and Right: Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, and America's Constitutional Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
  • Duram, James C. Justice William O. Douglas. Boston: Twayne, 1981.
  • Simon, James. Independent Journey: The Life of William O. Douglas. New York: Harper & Row, 1980.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1954 to 1962