Michigan Supreme Court Might Overturn Its Infamous Poletown Decision

Ilya Somin of George Mason University School of Law has an op-ed in the Detroit News about the possibility that the Michigan Supreme Court might overturn the infamous Poletown decision. Michigan should alter property grab rules.

In Poletown the court allowed Detroit to seize the homes of more than 4,200 people under its power of eminent domain. This time-hallowed power lets the state seize property for public use. Although the state must pay market value, there's no way to monetize the value of the destruction of a neighborhood, its churuches, and its vanished sense of community. 'Public use' had been thought to mean something the government does for all of us, but in Poletown the purpose of the seizure was to give the land to General Motors so it could build a factory. (The idea was that the new jobs would benefit the public; in the event, far fewer jobs were created than promised and Prof. Somin argues that the project was a net economic loss to the community.)

I recall being outraged by this case when I read about it in the papers, and being outraged again when I read it in law school. Here's hoping…

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One Response to Michigan Supreme Court Might Overturn Its Infamous Poletown Decision

  1. Judith Ackerman says:

    I would like to read the remainder of your article. It is very relevant to what went on in Long Branch, NJ. I would also like to know whether or not this was the case that involved Mistole’s (may be mispelled) coal plant.
    Thank you.
    Judith Ackerman

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