Constitutional Law – Public Use Requirement and the Power of Eminent Domain

Under the District of Columbia Redevelopment Act, an agency was created to redevelop blighted and slum areas. Pursuant to the mode of operation prescribed in the statute, the agency intended to purchase or take by eminent domain all the property in the vicinity of appellant’s property. After getting title to all the property the agency was to lease or sell it to private enterprisers to redevelop the area according to the agency’s comprehensive plan, which specified definite boundaries for various uses. Appellant brought this action to enjoin the condemnation of his business property, claiming that the statute was unconstitutional because it authorized condemnation of private property for other than a public use. The district court refused to enjoin the condemnation, construing the act to authorize condemnation only to remove or prevent conditions injurious to the public health, safety, morals, and welfare. Held, affirmed. The act authorizes condemnation not only for the purposes named by the district court but even in aid of developing a more balanced and attractive community. The courts’ role in deciding if land is condemned for a public purpose is a limited one, being restricted to an inquiry whether it is taken for an object within the regulatory power of the government. Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26, 75 S.Ct. 98 (1954).