Thursday, January 12, 2006

Eminent Domain Writing Competitions

I was recently asked if I knew of any writing competitions open to law students that focused on eminent domain.  I am aware of one competition run by the Pacific Legal Foundation that tends to deal with takings issues.  Although the deadline is coming up, it is an annual competition.  Here are this year's topics:

TOPIC I:  In Kelo v. Town of New London, the Supreme Court announced that the government may use its power of eminent domain to forcibly transfer homes and other private property to third parties for development, if officials believe this will result in a public benefit. Some state legislatures have responded to Kelo by introducing bills to impose stricter limits on the use of eminent domain. What should be the appropriate test for determining whether a taking of private property through eminent domain is for a “public use,” as required by the Fifth Amendment and most state constitutions?

TOPIC II:  The Supreme Court stated in Penn Central Transportation Co. v. City of New York that “the character of the government action” is a relevant factor in determining whether a land-use regulation constitutes a “taking” requiring just compensation. Outside of the so-called categorical takings—regulations that authorize a permanent physical invasion or deprive a property of all value—what sort of considerations should favor a finding of takings liability under the “character” prong of Penn Central?

TOPIC III:  In Gonzales v. Raich, the Supreme Court upheld Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause to ban the private, intrastate consumption of medicinal marijuana. How would the holding in Raich be applied in a case challenging the application of the Endangered Species Act to protect wholly intrastate species with no known commercial value?

The American Planning Association also runs a competition that would work for some aspects of eminent domain.

If you are aware of any other competitions, please leave a comment.

Ben Barros

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