Simple English definitions for legal terms

public use

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A quick definition of public use:

Public use means that the government can take private property for the benefit of the public, like building schools, parks, or roads. The government must pay the owner of the property fairly for what they take. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution says that private property cannot be taken for public use without just compensation. This is called eminent domain. The government can decide what public use means, but it must be for the good of the people. Some famous court cases about public use include United States v. Gettysburg Electric Railroad Company, Berman v. Parker, and Kelo v. City of New London.

A more thorough explanation:

Definition: Public use refers to the right of the public to use property that was once privately owned after it has been taken by the federal or state government through its eminent domain power. The government can take private property as long as the owner is fairly compensated, and the property taken must be for a public use.

For example, public use can include infrastructure and services such as public schools, public utilities, parks, and transit operations. Some jurisdictions define public use to mean “public benefit” or “public advantage”. Other jurisdictions limit its meaning to actual use by the public (“public employment”).

Three landmark cases concerning public use are:

  • United States v. Gettysburg Electric Railroad Company (1896): The Supreme Court established the lawfulness of condemnation of nearly any piece of land, with compensation. The court stated that when it came to public use, “No narrow view of the character of this proposed use should be taken. Its national character and importance, we think, are plain.”
  • Berman v. Parker (1954): In this case, the Supreme Court held that because the Fifth Amendment does not specify what land must be used for besides “public use”, Congress has the power to decide what the use might be. The court also stated that “once the question of the public purpose has been decided, the amount and character of land to be taken for the project and the need for a particular tract to complete the integrated plan rests in the discretion of the legislative branch.”
  • Kelo v. City of New London (2005): The Supreme Court ruled that redistributing the land as part of a detailed economic plan fulfilled the public use requirement, according to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 8-816, because the increase in economic welfare that would result from the development would improve the public welfare of the citizens of Connecticut. The Court used a more expansive definition of “public use” and did not confine the concept to literal usage by the public, but viewed it broadly to include public benefit or general welfare.

These examples illustrate how the government can take private property for public use as long as the owner is fairly compensated. The definition of public use can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the case.

public trust doctrine | Public utilities


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yay pookie! congrats!
omg this guy on the deposition is screamingggg
And congrats!!!!!!<3
like it's crazy
i've heard great things about UVA! I visited upenn and hated it so much / felt so uncomfy there and the starbucks by campus got robbed while i was there waiting for my tour to start lol
@OptimisticOutlier That sounds terrible, I'm sorry you had to experience that lol. Can I ask what made you feel uncomfortable? Like the sketchy vibes of the city or like the camp\us itself etc.?
penn is in a nice area
right next to drexel
it was campus itself, honestly i can't explain what it actually is. I felt the same way when I was touring schools for undergrad, pretty much pulled up to upenn and told my mom i knew i didn't like it and didn't need to take the tour lol
would argue with the nice area piece lol i think all of philly is kinda scary, someone pulled a gun on my team while we were down for a football game at upenn and walking around at night
but that said, i'm pretty happy i moved to pa after school and i know lots of people love upenn!
dear god is that sketchy
definetly safer than how its being described
people are absolutely crwzy
yeah yeah will 10000% agree i've had like bad outlier experiences lol
u are the optimistic outlier after all
how do i tell my boss im quitting and need to take off on monday (visiting ND on monday to meet with dean and check the vibes, was gonna put in my 2 weeks regardless
i luv being an art hoe snob
believe it or not i didn’t miss any calls
Lol all of philly is a dumpster fire
Yet i am moving there for law school in 14 days lol
@OptimisticOutlier: congratulations!!!
I live in that area. It isn't bad at all
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