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Eminent Domain

The legal authority for eminent domain is constitutional.

Article I, Section 26 of the Missouri Constitution provides:

That private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation. Such compensation shall be ascertained by a jury or board of commissioners of not less than three freeholders, in such manner as may be provided by law

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides in pertinent part:

nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation

Based on the foregoing language, it is hard to defend — in the traditional sense — against the government actually committing a taking. Rather, much of the litigation involving eminent domain centers on private individuals obtaining adequate compensation for when a taking has occurred. When a “taking” has occurred is often a very gray area. Furthermore, “just compensation” will often depend on market conditions, geography, and the specific property at issue (the takings clause also applies to personal property, but it is usually litigated in the contest of real property).

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