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Court: Not Every Public Use Requires ‘Just Compensation’


In Chicago B. & Q. R.R. v. Chicago, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a city’s decision to build a public road across some railroad tracks – which requires the railroad to incur the cost of “erecting gates, planking the crossing and maintaining flagmen, in order that [the] road may be safely operated” – is not a “taking” that requires the city to pay “just compensation” to the railroad company. The Court rules that the railroad gains much from the privilege of running through the city, and that the cost of public roads being built on or near its tracks is a necessary cost of doing business.