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Private Sector Use of Eminent Domain: Legitimate, Strategic, Constitutional

Institute for Policy Innovation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, March 11, 2019
CONTACT: Erin Humiston, (972) 874-5139, or

DALLAS - Limited government proponents should resist a knee-jerk opposition to the private sector use of eminent domain, and instead recognize that when necessary, it is legitimate, strategic, Constitutional, and can grow the economy without growing government.
In a new publication from the Institute for Policy Innovation, “On Private Sector Use of Eminent Domain,” IPI president Tom Giovanetti confronts a difficult topic and makes the limited government case for the right for property to be taken by the private sector when there is an unwilling seller and two key conditions are met under the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause: if the property is taken for public use and includes just compensation.
“Eminent domain is a painful topic precisely because of the importance of property rights and the lack of a willing seller in the face of a public need,” writes Giovanetti.
“Conservatives generally view eminent domain critically because of our concern about government’s potential to abuse power and the high value we place on property rights,” said Giovanetti. But while conservatives were rightly outraged after the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision, which stretched the definition of public use beyond reason to a private office complex for a private company, many have become reflexively opposed to any use of eminent domain.
“This overreaction is unwarranted, and actually contrary to the stated policy goals of most conservatives, because opposing private sector eminent domain for public uses is a recipe for even bigger government,” said Giovanetti.
The Constitution does not reserve a monopoly to government to build infrastructure. “If only the government can use eminent domain, then only the government can build and own infrastructure,” he said, an entity which is accustomed to using force, subject to the temptations of corruption, and is inefficient and less cost effective than the private sector at building infrastructure. 
“When necessary, private sector use of eminent domain is a feature, not a bug,” said Giovanetti. “And if any extra scrutiny is needed, it should almost certainly be focused on government use of eminent domain rather than on private sector use.”

 The Institute for Policy Innovation is an independent, nonprofit public policy organization based in Dallas. IPI president Tom Giovanetti is available for interview by contacting Erin Humiston at (972) 874-5139, or