The Yale Law Journal

VOLUME
119
2009-2010
NUMBER
6
April 2010
1122-1361
Note

Eminent Domain Due Process

D. Zachary Hudson

119 Yale L.J. 1280 (2010). 

This Note analyzes the apparent disconnect between eminent domain doctrine and due process doctrine. Following Kelo, numerous states have reformed their eminent domain laws in an effort to ensure that the takings power is not abused. Whatever one makes of these legislative reforms, at an absolute minimum, the Due Process Clause should guarantee that landowners receive notice and an opportunity for some sort of judicial determination of the legality of the taking before the land is actually taken. After cataloging existing eminent domain laws, this Note traces the evolution of these laws over time in both the legislatures and the courts. In parallel, this Note analyzes the evolving circumstances driving the judicial perception of eminent domain. Examining these facts, the Note explains why courts have failed to rein in the eminent domain power with procedural protections. After establishing the appropriateness of applying modern due process principles to eminent domain actions, the focus of the inquiry shifts to what procedural due process demands. This colloquy explains what process is due, what the content and form of that process should be, and the likely effects of recognizing due process rights in the eminent domain context.