Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Michigan's Poletown Decision Overturned

Govt. Now Cannot Seize Your Land and Give it to GM.

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, there was a huge controversy in Michigan. The auto industry was on the skids, unemployment was at something like 15% in the state and even higher in Detroit. So, General Motors decides it wants to build a new factory. The only problem is that the location they want is in Hamtramack, a stable community in surrounded by the blight and hopelessness of Detroit and is populated with about 1,000 homes and businesses.

So, GM and the city of Detroit sought the use of eminent domain to clear the land for the factory. Before this case, government would traditionally reserve the use of its eminent domain power (i.e. the power to take your land from you) for public projects like highways, power plants, etc. But in the Poletown case, the city wanted to use its authority to enrich a private company. The courts upheld it, in part due to the severe economic distress of the area at the time. Now it seems to have come undone. I say that's a good thing.

History of the Poletown Decision:

Virginia Postrel's (Uber-Libertarian) Commentatry: Ripple Effects

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?