By Arnold Kling
Both Gary Becker and Richard Posner weigh in. Becker writes,
Is eminent domain a desirable principle in the 21st century? In the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, governments did rather little, so there was not much to fear from great abuse of the eminent domain constitutional clause. In fact, the first real eminent domain case was not decided until 1876. Now, however, government at all levels do so much that the temptation is irresistible to use eminent domain condemnation proceedings to hasten and cheapen their accumulation of property for various projects, regardless of a projects merits.
Without the right to eminent domain, governments would have to buy property in the same manner that private companies often accumulate many parcels to create shopping centers, factory campuses, and building complexes, like Rockefeller Center. There are difficulties involved in combining separate parcels into a single more extensive property, but whey should that be made too easy, as through a condemnation proceeding?
Generally, government should be required to buy the property it wants in the open market, like anyone else. If it is allowed to confiscate property without paying the full price, it will be led to substitute property for other inputs
Posner suggests that in eminent domain cases it might be fair for a court to look for evidence that a “holdout problem” exists–that is, for evidence that the property owner is trying to extort a high price for being the last person to yield right of way for a project.