Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Ethics and Policy Studies


Political Science

Advisor 1

David Fott, Committee Chair

First Committee Member

Kenneth Fernandez

Second Committee Member

Rebecca Wood

Graduate Faculty Representative

David Tanenhaus

Number of Pages



In recent years, local governments in the United States have increasingly used eminent domain to promote economic development, raising concerns among property-right advocates over what those advocates view as unlawful, or what should be unlawful, takings of private property in order to benefit another private property owner. This philosophical and legal dispute reached a crisis point in the 2005 United States Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London. In that decision, the court narrowly upheld a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling granting the City of New London permission to redevelop land that had been seized from existing homeowners and transferred to another private party for economic development. The decision sparked an immediate public outcry and prompted forty-three states to consider some type of reform to protect property owners from similar actions by government.

This thesis examines the legal, policy, and ethical implications that the Kelo case has had in the United States and in Nevada. It reviews the principal academic literature and case law concerning eminent domain in the United States, up to and including the Kelo decision, then specifically focuses on assessing the legal and policy responses of Nevada and other states to Kelo. It notes that while the post- Kelo reforms of some states have been highly effective, others have done little to safeguard property owners against Kelo -type takings. It briefly reviews the policy influence of Dewey and Locke in current approaches to eminent domain, and concludes that Nevada's post- Kelo approach is an effective model for limiting how eminent domain is used, while still achieving the obligations government has to protect its people.


Berman v. Parker; Court cases; Economic development; Eminent domain; Ethics; Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff; Kelo v. City of New London; Legality; Nevada; Non-public use; Poletown Neighborhood Council v. City of Detroit; Private development; Private property ownership; Property rights; Public good; Susette Kelo; United States


Political Science | Property Law and Real Estate | Urban Studies and Planning

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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