Future of eminent domain focus of MSU College of Law symposium — Michigan State University College of Law, 11/10/04

Michigan State University College of Law will host a half-day symposium, “The Death of Poletown: The Future of Eminent Domain and Urban Development after County of Wayne v. Hathcock,” from 1 to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, at MSU’s Law College Building. The event is open to students, legal educators, legislators and practicing attorneys.

At the symposium, leading property law experts will speak about Hathcock’s impact in overruling the Michigan Supreme Court’s famous 1981 Poletown decision, which had insulated municipalities from judicial scrutiny of whether their condemnations of private property meet the constitutional requirement that this occur only for a “public use.” The result was an explosion in the use of eminent domain for private urban development. Panel discussions at the symposium will focus on eminent domain and its use in urban development under the new “public use” standard established in Hathcock.

“The Michigan Supreme Court’s decision in Poletown is famous for two reasons,” said Adam Mossoff, an assistant professor of law at MSU and the organizer of the conference. “First, it effectively eliminated the ‘public use’ requirement in the eminent domain provision of the Michigan Constitution, and, second, it was the first such decision in the country, with the federal government following suit in 1984 with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Midkiff decision. Thus, the implications of Poletown’s reversal are tremendous.”

Panelists include Eric R. Claeys from St. Louis University School of Law; James W. Ely Jr. from Vanderbilt University; James E. Krier from University of Michigan Law School; Lee Anne Fennell from University of Illinois College of Law; William A. Fischel from Dartmouth College; and Ilya Somin from George Mason University School of Law.

In addition, Alan T. Ackerman of Ackerman & Ackerman, and Mischa M. Gibbons of Zausmer, Kaufman, August & Caldwell, two attorneys who worked for the opposing parties in Hathcock, will speak about their experiences in litigating the case.

Contact: Janet Harvey-Clark, MSU College of Law, (517) 432-6959; or Russ White, University Relations, (517) 355-2281, whiterus@msu.edu