- Professor Irina Manta, Hofstra Law
Under what circumstances can the government take your property without giving you compensation? Does it matter whether it is real property or personal property? On June 22, with an interesting alignment of justices, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Horne v. Department of Agriculture, addressing these and other questions.
On June 23, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that the city of New London, Connecticut, could condemn fifteen residential properties in order to transfer them to a new private owner. Although the Fifth Amendment only permits the taking of private property for "public use," the Court ruled that the transfer of condemned land to private parties for "economic development" is permitted by the Constitution. In his new book, published by the University of Chicago Press, The Grasping Hand: "Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain, Prof. Ilya Somin argues that the closely divided 5-4 ruling in Kelo was a grave error. Prof. Somin provides a detailed study of the case, as well as of the new laws intended to limit the use of eminent domain passed in forty-five states during the political backlash following the decision, alongside a broader history of the dispute over public use and eminent domain and an evaluation of options for reform.
With the 10th anniversary of the Kelo decision approaching, Prof. Somin joined a Teleforum program to discuss the book, with Prof. Richard Epstein joining to offer his comments.
On January 21, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank. This trademark case involved a rule called "tacking", which permits the owner of a trademark to modify the trademark without losing the priority established by being the first user of the trademark. Tacking, however, is only permitted as long as the modified trademark establishes "the same, continuing commercial impression so that consumers consider both as the same mark."
The question in this case was whether the judge or the jury should determine whether a consumer would consider the original trademark and the modified trademark to be the same.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Sotomayor, the Court unanimously held that the jury, rather than a court, should determine whether the use of an older trademark may be tacked to a newer one. The judgment of the Ninth Circuit was affirmed.
To discuss the case, we have Michael Risch, who is a Professor of Law at the Villanova University School of Law.