Spring 2021 - 60599 -
Eminent Domain & Private Property
Law CSN: 105137, Law CNBR: 279M
This course will be taught in person but with the option of remote participation via Zoom. Please note that this course might become online-only in the event that actual in-person attendance during the semester consistently falls below a threshold to be determined in the exercise of reasonable discretion by the instructor and the Student Affairs Office.
In this advanced property-law class, you will learn about eminent domain—the power of the government (and those with its delegated authority) to take private property and convert it into public use in exchange for paying just compensation to the property owner. Most lawyers get just one or two days of class about eminent domain in law school. This course aims to fix that shortcoming.
The subject is fascinating as a matter of theory, as it deals with the power of a tribe (the community) to take property away from its members. And eminent domain is becoming more and more important in practice. Take Texas, for example. The Lone Star State is home to eight of the nation’s 15 fastest-growing cities and boasts five of the top 10 cities in the total number of new residents. The need for infrastructure has skyrocketed, both to accommodate the explosive population growth and to support Texas's ever-expanding oil-and-gas industry. In light of these developments, we as a community need to work out how to deal with growth while still honoring constitutional values and individual rights.
Class discussions and reading assignments will explore whether the current eminent domain framework in the U.S. properly protects property owners and the public. The subject is generally divided into two interrelated parts: (1) the origins of eminent domain, public use, and public necessity and (2) “just compensation," including evidentiary and procedural issues that arise in disputes about compensation. Throughout, the class will explore the relationship between theory and practice.