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Univ. of Kentucky College of Law

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Department of Misleading Headlines

Consider the following headline and lede:

U.S. Gov't Backs Off Seizure Plan, Says Flight 93 Landowners 'Will Be Treated Fairly'

SOMERSET, Pa. -- The U.S. government will not use eminent domain to seize people's land for a permanent Flight 93 memorial and instead will renew negotiations with landowners near the terrorist crash site in Somerset County.

Then consider the following, from later in the article:

Salazar told the park service to negotiate with landowners for one more week. Eminent domain will be used as a last resort if no agreement can be reached.

So, translated, the U.S. will back off its threat to use eminent domain to take the Flight 93 memorial property, BUT will only negotiate for a week before going back to using eminent domain if negotiations are not successful.  Bargaining in the shadow of law, anyone?  To be clear, I have no problem whatsoever with the government using eminent domain here.  The only difference between going straight to eminent domain and settling early and what is happening here is public perception and politics, which is also completely okay in this context.

Ben Barros

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