Debbie Becher: Private property and public power: eminent domain in Philadelphia

Oxford University Press, Oxford/New York, 2014, 360 pp, Softcover $24.95 (Hardcover $99.00), ISBN: 9780199322558
  • Willem K. Korthals Altes
Book Review

Since the 2005 US Supreme Court Case Kelo v. City of New London, the idea of taking property for private development has been heavily debated and criticised in the USA. Becher distinguishes two main school of criticism to the application of the power of eminent domain to implement development planning. The first is the libertarian approach, which basically says that private property is sanctuary and eminent domain shall never be used to transfer property to another private owner. A taking must be justified by a public use, which means that the actual land use must remain in the hands of public authorities. A second approach is what Becher calls the ‘left explanation’, which points to the fact that authorities predominantly use eminent domain powers in the area populated by the poor. Poor people are so the primary ‘victims’ of eminent domain. Eminent domain is the instrument by which people are displaced to accommodate gentrification and neoliberal development projects and the poor are...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TU DelftDelftThe Netherlands

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