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The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution outlines a policy known as "eminent domain": the idea that the government can annex private property, compensate the owner, and turn that land into public use. It's become a talking point for conservatives, saying it exemplifies government overreach.
In theory, eminent domain is supposed to support the public interest. One of the most common examples of eminent domain is the government buying peoples' homes to build a freeway. However, critics say there have been many instances of the public not benefitting from these types of sales. In fact, there have been instances of the government buying land from homeowners and selling it for private development-such was the case for some District of Columbia homeowners in 1954. Another major critique is that property owners do not always receive "just" compensation as specified in the U.S. Constitution.
Even with these critiques in mind, countries without such policies are not much better. In China, for instance, construction projects for vital infrastructure can be brought to a halt by homeowners who refuse to budge.
Conservatives Slam Trump Over Support for Eminent Domain (motherjones.com)
"GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump has taken fire from the right for his lack of foreign policy experience, his immigration proposals, and his apparent eagerness to insult women."
Eminent Domain and Just Compensation (nationalparalegal.edu)
"Clause in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution that provides 'nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation'."
China's 'nail houses': The homeowners who refused to budge (cnn.com)
"In China, they're known as "nail houses" -- homes where owners refuse to accept compensation offered by road builders and developers in exchange for the demolition of their property."