Post Content

WordsofLaw

Words of law is a regular feature of Massachusetts Law Updates, highlighting a particular word or phrase and its meaning in law.

Today’s phrase is  “eminent domain.”

eminent domain. (18c) The inherent power of a governmental entity to take privately owned property, esp. land, and convert it to public use, subject to reasonable compensation for the taking. – Also (rarely) termed compulsory purchase; (in Scots law) compulsory surrender; ( in Australia) compulsory acquisition .

‘ The term ’eminent domain’ is said to have originated with Grotius, the seventeenth century legal scholar. Grotius believed that the state possessed the power to take or destroy property for the benefit of the social unit, but he believed that when the state so acted, it was obligated to compensate the injured property owner for his losses. Blackstone, too, believed that society had no general power to take the private property of landowners, except on the payment of a reasonable price. The just compensation clause of the fifth amendment to the Constitution was built upon this concept of a moral obligation to pay for governmental interference with private property. . . no provision for the power of eminent domain appears in the federal Constitution. The Supreme Court, however, has said that the power of eminent domain is an incident of federal sovereignty and an ‘offspring of political necessity.’ The Court has also noted that the fifth amendment’s limitation on taking private property is a tacit recognition that the power to take private property exists.’ John E. Nowak & Ronald D. Rotunda, Constitutional Law § 11.11, at 424-25 (4th ed. 1991) (quoting Bauman v. Ross, 167 U.S. 548, 574, 17 St. Ct. 966, 976 (1897) ).”

Black’s Law Dictionary, 10th ed., Bryan A. Garner, Editor in Chief, Thomson Reuters, 2014.

In plain English

eminent domain (1738) : a right of a government to take private property for public use by virtue of the superior dominion of the sovereign power over all lands within its jurisdiction.”

– Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003.

Written By:

Tags:

Recent Posts

New Law Gives Added Protections for Persons with Disabilities posted on Feb 20

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a new law on February 13, 2020 which gives more protections to individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.  Chapter 19 of the Acts of 2020 establishes a registry for caretakers in Massachusetts who have been found to have caused serious physical   …Continue Reading New Law Gives Added Protections for Persons with Disabilities

Real Estate Recording Fees to be Increased posted on Dec 10

Under Massachusetts General Laws chapter 44B section 8,  real property conveyance documents recorded at the Registry of Deeds are subject to a Community Preservation Act surcharge.  This law was amended by chapter 41 sections 29 and 30 of the Acts of 2019.  Effective December 31,   …Continue Reading Real Estate Recording Fees to be Increased

Portraits in Massachusetts Law: Lucy Stone posted on Nov 13

Portraits in Massachusetts Law: Lucy Stone

Portraits in Massachusetts Law is a regular feature of Massachusetts Law Updates. These pages provide links to biographical information abut people who have been particularly important in legal history in Massachusetts, as our government took shape in the cauldron of the American Revolution and grew and changed throughout   …Continue Reading Portraits in Massachusetts Law: Lucy Stone