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Government Project Does Not Have To Benefit All Members Of Society To Be A Public Use


In Fallbrook Irrigation District v. Bradley, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds a California law that imposed a tax on all landowners to pay for irrigation of drier land in the state. In deciding that the law does not violate property owners’ due process rights, the Court notes that the irrigation project qualifies as a “public use” – even if only certain landowners will benefit – because it helps the state’s economy as a whole. Notably, this case is decided before the takings clause is extended to the states and thus relies on the 14th Amendment’s due process clause rather than the Fifth Amendment. Nevertheless, the Court’s decision on what is a public purpose has been applied in other Fifth Amendment cases.