Amdt5.5.1.3.1 Need for a Just Compensation

Fifth Amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

When . . . [the] power [of eminent domain] is exercised it can only be done by giving the party whose property is taken or whose use and enjoyment of such property is interfered with, full and adequate compensation, not excessive or exorbitant, but just compensation.1 The Fifth Amendment’s guarantee that private property shall not be taken for a public use without just compensation was designed to bar Government from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole.2

Footnotes

  1.  Jump to essay-1Backus v. Fort Street Union Depot Co., 169 U.S. 557, 573, 575 (1898).
  2.  Jump to essay-2Armstrong v. United States, 364 U.S. 40, 49 (1960). The political ethics reflected in the Fifth Amendment reject confiscation as a measure of justice. United States v. Cors, 337 U.S. 325, 332 (1949). There is no constitutional prohibition against confiscation of enemy property, but aliens not so denominated are entitled to the protection of this clause. Compare United States v. Chemical Foundation, 272 U.S. 1, 11 (1926) and Stoehr v. Wallace, 255 U.S. 239 (1921), with Silesian-American Corp. v. Clark, 332 U.S. 469 (1947), Russian Volunteer Fleet v. United States, 282 U.S. 481 (1931), and Guessefeldt v. McGrath, 342 U.S. 308, 318 (1952). Takings Clause protections for such aliens may be invoked, however, only when they have come within the territory of the United States and developed substantial connections with this country. United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259, 271 (1990).