The Columbia Critic

A place to debate anything we want to. We'll talk Columbia campus issues. We'll talk up the homosexual problem. We'll talk China. And we'll talk without resorting to partisan rhetoric. We may be left. We may be right. But we aren't going to be quoting any party line. We're leading the discussion. But feel free to chime in. Hannity and Colmes this is not.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Does eminent domain justify the eviction of the Indians from their lands?

Eminent domain is acceptable to remove people who refused to be moved in cases where the motivation for the move is to free up land for use that has a positive/greater benefit for society. This description is quite vague, as it has been proven to work for private business ventures as well if they can claim to create jobs and stimulate the economy. While pondering the recent NCAA rulings about the use of Indian names for sports team, the issue of eminent domain struck like lightning.

The Indians weren't really helping anyone through their use of their land; they didn't exploit it properly, they didn't mine the precious metals embedded deep beneath the surface; they didn't willingly share all their land with the United States government (a la: one nation of white people, under a vengeful god, suppressing people of color, for the good of us all. amen). Under eminent domain, we had a duty to move them, forcefully if necessary, because their decisions were not contributing to the public good as the American government saw it. Of course, there is the issue of how the US govt gained domain over the Indians in the first place, but that is a wholly separate issue.

Indian relocation + eminent domain = legal and just?


  • At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your post fails to address a few fundamental issues, in particular the theory and fact of eminent domain.

    I'm fairly certain eminent domain didn't exist during the majority of Indian land seizures. That being said, you may be suggesting that one might theoretically be able to retrospectively justify land seizures by arguing that the seizures were precursors to eminent domain in that they embodied the theory of eminent domain.

    The first flaw there is that the land was seized, and there was no compensation to really speak of. Leaving that aside, the theory of eminent you use as the basis of the arguement- seizure (with compensation) of property and resale of land for public benefit was not the definition of eminent domain until recently. The recent Supreme Court ruling shifted the definition of eminent domain from seizure for public use to public benefit, allowing the government to seize land for resale to the private sector. So, the theory you are offering for retrospective application wasn't the prevailing definition of eminent domain.

    That was convoluted, sorry!


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