Martin Center highlights universities’ questionable use of eminent domain

Chris West writes for the Martin Center about universities’ use of eminent domain powers.

Colleges tend to expand beyond their original missions by hiring more administrators and creating new programs. But they can also expand physically by exercising power usually reserved for state and federal governments. When that happens, universities can abuse their power and undermine the public good.

For a prime example of this expansion, look at how public universities use eminent domain. Universities have used this power to build sports arenas and parking lots, and evict students from university property that is then leased to private companies. Unless the public notices these abuses early, universities are rarely stopped from claiming property. …

… The process for approving university use of eminent domain varies by state. Some states have independent review boards, whereas others only require approval from a university board of trustees or a few campus officials for eminent domain claims. Multiple calls by the Martin Center to university officials for clarity on eminent domain went unanswered. The process for how universities make an eminent domain claim isn’t transparent, and even basic records and statistics on how colleges use eminent domain are non-existent beyond scattered news reports.

This lack of data is discouraging because some colleges have abused their eminent domain power.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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