case western reserve university



Public Affairs Discussion Group

"Eminent Domain: State Legislative Responses to Kelo vs. New London: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly."

September 29, 2006
Guilford House, Guest Lounge

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Professor Alan Weinstein

Alan Weinstein, J.D., M.C.P.

Professor and Director, Law and Public Policy Program, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University


Dear Colleagues:

On September 29, at 12:30 p.m. on the first floor of Guilford House, the Friday Public Affairs Lunch discussion will take up a fundamental issue of both justice and the role of government: When can governments seize private property? We’ll be briefed on current controversies, particularly involving the case of Kelo v. New London, by Professor Alan Weinstein of Cleveland State University, who will talk about “State Legislative Responses to Kelo: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”

In the English tradition, Governments have long had the authority to seize property for public use, so long as they paid just compensation. The Fifth Amendment both recognizes this governmental power and restates its limits in stating that, “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

“In 2000, the city of New London, [Connecticut] approved a development plan that, in the words of the Supreme Court of Connecticut, was ‘projected to create in excess of 1,000 jobs, to increase tax and other revenues, and to revitalize an economically distressed city, including its downtown and waterfront areas.’… In assembling the land needed for this project, the city’s development agent has purchased property from willing sellers and proposes to use the power of eminent domain to acquire the remainder of the property from unwilling owners in exchange for just compensation. The question presented is whether the city’s proposed disposition of this property qualifies as a ‘public use’ within the meaning of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.”

So begins Justice Stevens’ decision in the Kelo case, decided on June 23, 2005. The Court upheld New London’s definition of public use, and since then all heck has broken out. It was generally considered that uses such as highways qualified as public, but replacing one set of residences and commercial establishments with another? “Property Rights” advocates began proposing that Justice Souter’s home be bulldozed for development, while new and more constrictive definitions of the eminent domain power were proposed both in state legislatures and through ballot initiatives.

The conflict over eminent domain is relevant anywhere that local governments and elites might have plans to reshape communities and neighborhoods. So it might be coming soon to a neighborhood near you. To understand the stakes you need somebody who is an expert in both law and community development. Fortunately, we have just such an expert down the road. Alan Weinstein is Director of the Law and Public Policy Program and the JD/MPA Joint Degree Program at Cleveland State University. His appointments are as Associate Professor of both Law and Urban Studies. A nationally recognized expert on planning law, he is past-Chair of the Plannin &Law division of the American Planning Association, and serves as Chair of the Sub-Committee on Land Use & the First Amendment in the American Bar Association’s Section of State & Local Government Law. We’re very glad that he can take the time to come up to University Circle to share thoughts on this issue. It’s not an easy one.

As usual, beverages and cookies will be provided by the Office of University Communications and generous souls. The tentative schedule for the rest of the semester follows.

Best regards,
Joe White

More About Our Guest

Professor Weinstein holds a joint faculty appointment in the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs and also serves as Director of the Colleges' JD/MPA and JD/MUPDD Joint Degree Programs and Law & Public Policy Program. He is a nationally recognized expert on planning law who writes and lectures extensively in this field. Professor Weinstein is a past-Chair of the Planning & Law Division of the American Planning Association (APA), is one of the twenty-eight planning law experts who serve as Reporters for APA's Planning & Environmental Law, and serves as Chair of the Sub-Committee on Land Use & the First Amendment in the American Bar Association's Section of State & Local Government Law. Teaching Areas: Land Use Planning, Environmental Law, Alternate Dispute Resolution, Law and Public Policy, Administrative Law, and Torts.

Fall Semester Schedule

Sept 1: Ken Ledford, Associate Professor of History and Law, hosts Jon Entin, Professor of Law and Political Science, to discuss the first year of the Supreme Court with John Roberts as Chief Justice.

Sept 8: Leonard Lynn, Professor and Chair of the Department of Policy and Management at the Weatherhead School of Management, on what U.S. leadership in engineering could mean with the rise of India and China.

Sept 15: Mark Naymik, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, on this year’s statewide elections in Ohio.

Sept 22: Greg Eastwood, Interim President of Case Western Reserve University, on “The Interim Period: Tasks for Today and Ideas for the Future.”

Sept 29: Alan Weinstein, Professor and Director, Law and Public Policy Program, Cleveland-Marshall College of the Law, "Eminent domain: State Legislative Responses to Kelo vs. New London: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”

Oct 6: Amy Hanauer, Executive Director, PolicyMatters Ohio, on raising the minimum wage

Oct 13: Marty Kress, Executive Director of the National Space Science and Technology Center, University of Alabama at Huntsville, on Organizing NASA for Space Exploration. NOTE: Tentative room change to Mather House 100.

Oct 20: Michael Wager, Vice Chair and Chair Elect of the Port Authority, on its role in local economic development issues.

Oct 27: Pete Moore, Assistant Professor of Political Science, on whatever is happening in the Middle East at the time.

Nov 3: Justin Buchler, Assistant Professor of Political Science, and Andrew Lucker, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Political Science: Midterm Election forecast.

Nov 10: Eric J. Topol MD, Professor of Genetics, on concerns about conflicts of interest in medical research.

Nov 17: Norman Robbins, Emeritus Professor of Neurosciences, on class bias in who gets to vote.


Dec 1: Jerome Liebman MD, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, on National Health Insurance

Dec 8: Terry Wolpaw MD, Associate Dean for Curricular Affairs, School of Medicine, on the new demands on or expectations of medical education. 

Parking: For those people who seek to make special arrangements about parking, the contact person now will be Fay Alexander.  Her phone number is 368-4440, and her e-mail is

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