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Berman v. Parker


The decision determined that state legislatures may exercise wide latitude in determining what serves a "public purpose." And they also have broad leeway in choosing the means to achieve these "public ends." As long as they pay compensation, legislatures may lawfully take property from a private owner and give it to another private owner for his private use.

The Fifth Amendment limits the federal government's power (known as "eminent domain") to seize private property: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." The courts have held that the Fifth Amendment limits also apply to the states under the Fourteenth Amendment's "due process" clause. In addition, the constitution of virtually every state requires payment when property is taken.

Under a 1945 Redevelopment Act for the District of Columbia, Congress created the National Capital Planning Commission. The commission was authorized to design comprehensive plans providing for housing, business, and public buildings. To achieve these plans, the commission could condemn land and lease or sell it to private parties for clearance and redevelopment.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1954 to 1962Berman v. Parker - Significance, Rebuilding The Nation's Capital, There Are No Limits On The Public's Needs