The worst structural abuse of eminent domain is its use to take private property because someone else's use of it might be more profitable. (Follow the link for some background.) The legal issue turns on the definition of "public use" which can be defined so broadly as to include condemnation of land for a new shopping center. You get a lot of that with public Port Districts where the Port condemns the land and then turns around and leases it long-term to a private shipping company. That passes for public use.
And what's really shocking is to read that D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams thinks that prohibiting such use of eminent domain is a bad thing. It pains me to read that he supports such a truly hideous and bankrupt policy. I hope that he is not typical of Democratic Party thinking on this issue. The irony of course is that the likely gainers (from such abuse of eminent domain) are fat-cat corporate-Republicans who claim that they will "bring jobs" etc etc in their quest for government advantage such as being able to assemble land outside the market.
When will Democratic politicians see through this rubbish? There is certainly common-ground to be made on this issue with the more rational right-wing private-property enthusiasts; and that's what politics is all about -- trying to strike deals on issues with people you might otherwise detest. Democrats should make those deals rather than leaving the field to the Republicans.
Here's more background: Panelists discuss eminent domain.
People who favor giving government power to seize land for new houses and stores pleaded their case Wednesday in Cleveland, but they won't have a say when the nation's top court hears the matter early next year. Panelists at Cleveland State University exhumed and dissected Lakewood's Issue 47, which was narrowly defeated last fall. Voters were asked whether the city should be allowed to use its powers of eminent domain to take land after paying fair market value so private developers could build upscale housing and shops in the West End neighborhood. (emphasis added.)
It amazes me that people can even think that the matter is worthy of discussion. Here is where we see the worst synthesis of government and capital (shades of those "public-private partnerships" -- what a euphemistic & soothing term).