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Analysis of Chicago City Council and CB&Q Railroad's compensation award


Did The Disapproval Of Chicago And Compensation Awarded For Chicago, Burlington And Quincy Railroad Infringe The Due Process Clause Of The Fourteenth Amendment?

Did Law Infringe The Authority Allowed To Congress As Per Due Process Clause Of The Fifth Amendment And Article Section 8?

Does The Prohibition Deprive Lucas Of The Economic Use Of His Property Amount To a 'Takings ' For Reasonable Compensation As Per The Fifth And Fourteenth Amendment?

Is There An Infringement Of The Fifth Amendment Takings Clause By The City If It Sells The Personal Property For Developing The City To Help Its Bad Economy?

It was decided by Chicago City Council to widen the Rockwell street on 9th October 1880  so appropriate land possessed by private individuals was required along with the right of way for property possessed by Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company. As a result, fair compensation was awarded by the jury to the owners of the land. The railroad company was awarded $1 to appropriate its right of way for the property. There was an appeal by the company.

 It was contended by the City of Chicago that the due procedure of law was procedural and demanded hearing of the case only.  

No, in a verdict of 7-1, the court held  that the due procedure of law mandates sufficient compensation to be given to the private property holders for possessing their property. The procedures mentioned in general statutes of Illinois were followed, so there was no violation of the Fourteenth Amendment rights of the company as held in Brown v. Atwell.

The opinion was dissented by Justice Brewer. He disagreed to the point that just compensation was awarded to the company. The compensation of $1 was merely nominal.

This case integrated the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as held in Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co. v. City of Chicago 166 U.S. at 241.

In this case, two sections of Rockwell Street were joined by the City of Chicago by using the private property which also comprised of right of way possessed by Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Corporation.  The case was petitioned in Cook County Circuit Court and there was condemnation of land. The railroad company was awarded $1 and as a result, the case was appealed by the company.  The Supreme Court declared that there was no infringement of the rights mentioned in the Fourteenth Amendment.  


This case initiated a special provision which was incorporated in the Bill of Rights by the Court - “Just compensation “ in the Fifth Amendment by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This case has set the scene for additional incorporation of the provisions of other Bill of Rights (Holloway & Noelting, 2018).

United States v. Carolene Products Company, 304 U.S. 144 (1938)

It deals with a law that restricts the interstate shipping of filled milk. It was argued by the defendant company that there was unconstitutional law under the Due Process and Commerce Clause. The United States District Court for Southern District of Illinois approved the motion to the defendant and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals declared the ruling of the District Court.

Upon the banning of interstate shipping of filled milk by the Congress,  Carolene Products was accused under the 1923 act, which was dismissed by the trial court. The court had to regulate if the act was unlawful upon the appeal to the federal government under the Fifth Amendment.  

The Court supported the law.The majority held that Congress may prohibit the shipping of milk substitutes excluding butter.

The case is famous for its fourth footnote which is known as the most popular footnote in constitutional law. Justice Harlan Stone stated that the courts cannot override as it was held by evidence supporting public health as held in Hebe Co. v. Shaw.

Congress believed that the law was mandatory for people’s welfare. So, the filled milk being harmful to health can be considered as the announcement of legal findings and deemed to be supportive of Act.

The rational basis test was applied by the Court and the legislative findings supported the Act as it involved evidence supporting public health. Furthermore, it has also impacted the Equal Protection Clause and judicial review

Lucas vs South Carolina Coastal Council, 505 US 103(1992)

Two residential plots were purchased by Lucas in 1986 on a barrier island in South Carolina.  The state laws restricted Lucas from erecting the permanent structure on the land in 1988 by enacting a law. It aimed to safeguard the island from erosion and disruption, so compensation would be paid to Lucas as per Mugler v. Kansas and Cf. Scranton v. Wheeler.  A case was filed by Lucas and as a result, a large amount of compensation was awarded to him.

Two vacant lots were owned by Lucas on a barrier island in South Carolina. He was prohibited to build a permanent structure due to its ill effects on public beach by Beachfront Management Act.

Procedural History

Yes, it was relied by the Court on the findings that the lots of Lucas were rendered worthless as per the state legislation in a 6-2 decision. John Stevens dissented by stating that the rule was irrational and a foolish addition to ‘Takings ‘.

The law prohibiting the holder of all the monetary utilization of the land comprises of Takings until the interests were not a part of the title since the beginning.  So, the intensity of harm to public land should be assessed along with their social worth and the easiness with which the damage can be escaped from by the actions taken by the state or applicant (Rossum & Tarr, 2018).

Firstly, it was argued by the majority that restricting the owner from all the economic use is the prevention of the lot itself, so there was a reversal of the judgment. It determined that rules can be enacted as per the state nuisance law.  

This case established the total Takings test and the parties were left to modify their pleadings to evaluate the actual damages (Brown & Merriam, 2016).

Kelo v. City of New London, 125 S. Ct 2655 (2005)

Susette Kelo and others filed a case on New London for seizing their personal property arguing that the Fifth Amendment Takings clause was violated. It guaranteed that the personal assets shall not be taken by the government without adequate reimbursement.  

The monetary benefits are a permitted form of public use which justifies the state in holding the property from citizens.

No, as per John Paul Stevens in a 5-4 decision, selling of personal property for public development qualified as public utilization as per Takings clause and Fifth Amendment.

The proposed disposition of the possessions of the petitioner qualifies as public utilization as per the Takings Clause (Huffman, 2018).  

Eight states of America restricted the use of the public property for economic progress but as of April 2019, 45 of them have enacted such legislation after the case of ' Kelo'.

This case involved the use of land acquisition by the government to transfer the land of one owner to another for the economic progress of the state which was permissible as per Takings Clause under the Fifth Amendment (Brady, 2016).

This case states that even though the Beachfront Management Act was a legal exercise by the police of the state for prohibiting Lucas from building permanent structure to prevent erosion of the island but the ban on construction restrained him of the monetary uses of the property and as a result creates an impact on the Takings as per Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment. It required the state to pay him adequate compensation as per Agins v. City of Tiburon. The Takings claim of Lucas is not held unconstitutional because a special permit shall be secured by him to build his property under the amended act. As a result, the South Carolina Supreme Court judgment was reversed and it was declared that the Beachfront Management Act comprised of a ‘Takings’ (Pecorella, 2017).

It was ruled by the Supreme Court of the United States that public utilization proviso of Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment in Constitution of United States allows the usage of 'eminent domain ‘for monetary progress in the public interest. In this case, it was determined by the court that the economic progress of New London served for the  public purpose as per the public usage proviso of the constitution as held in Berman vs Parker. However, the US Constitution restricts the Takings where the purpose is to merely transfer the personal property of one to another with just compensation.


Agins v. City of Tiburon, 447 U. S. 255, 261

Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26 (1954)

Brady, M.E.( 2016) Property's Ceiling: State Courts and the Expansion of Takings s Clause Property. Va. L. Rev., 102(2016), 1167. 

Brown v. Atwell, 92 U. S. 327

Brown, C. N., & Merriam, D. H. (2016). On the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Lucas: Making or Breaking the Takings s Claim. Iowa L. Rev., 102(2016), 1847.

Cf. Scranton v. Wheeler, 179 U. S. 141, 163

Hebe Co. v. Shaw, 248 U. S. 297. P. 304 U. S. 147

Holloway, J.E. & Noelting, D.T.( 2018) Takings s Clause and Integrated Sustainability Policy and Regulation: The Proportionality of the Burdens of Exercising Property Rights and Paying Just Compensation. Vill. Envtl. LJ, 29(2018), 1.

Huffman, J. L. (2018). Avoiding the Takings s clause Through the Myth of Public Rights: The Public Trust and Reserved Rights Doctrines at Work. Florida State University Journal of Land Use and Environmental Law, 3(2), 1.

Mugler v. Kansas, 123 U. S. 623

Pecorella, R. F. (2017). Property Rights, State Police Powers, and the Takings s Clause: The Evolution Toward Dysfunctional Land-Use Management. Fordham Urb. LJ, 44(2017), 59.

Rossum, R.A. & Tarr, A.( 2018) American Constitutional Law, Volume I: The Structure of Government. UK: Routledge,1-10.

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