• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court ruling in this Hawaii property case almost entirely eliminated public use as a limit on the government taking private property in condemnation proceedings.

A Hawaii law, designed to lessen the power of oligopoly landowners, allowed lessees of single family homes to invoke eminent domain and buy the property they leased. The landowners challenged the law, saying that the condemnation was not for public use because the government immediately turned the land over to the former lessee. Justice Sandra Day O’ConnorO’Connor, Sandra Day[OConnor, Sandra Day];Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff[Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff] wrote the unanimous opinion in this landmark case, quite clearly setting out that the Supreme Court would no longer use “public use” as a limit on future eminent domain actions. If a governmental body legislated the condemnation of private property, a public use occurred even if the property was immediately turned over to another private party. The public character of the government body making the condemnation was all that was required to give the action a public character. Justice Thurgood Marshall did not participate in this case.Takings clause;Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff[Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff]Public use doctrine;Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff[Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff]

Property rights

Public use doctrine

Takings clause

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