The Sandbagging Phenomenon: How Governments Lower Eminent Domain Appraisals to Punish Landowners

The landmark 2005 Supreme Court case of Kelo v. New London sparked a wave of eminent domain reform across the United States. Given the focus of Kelo, most of these reforms concerned the “public use” prong of the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause. The legal community’s post-Kelo focus, however, may have (understandably) diverted attention away from the second prong of the Takings Clause—”just compensation”—and how it is equally ripe for governmental abuse. This focus on only one prong of the Takings Clause should be resisted; as one scholar has put it, the “current inadequacy” of the public use requirement in the aftermath of Kelo “compels attention to the just compensation limitation to protect property rights.”

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