In 1952, the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency (DCRLA) announced a sweeping plan to clear and redevelop the southwest quadrant of the nation's capitol. Max Morris and Goldie Schneider were two business owners affected by the proposal. Schneider operated a successful hardware store that had been in the family for decades; Morris owned a department store. The agency, which had designated the area as "blighted," planned to acquire their buildings, demolish them, and transfer the cleared land to the Bush Construction Company. Schneider and Morris, however, refused to sell. To prevent the government from taking their properties by eminent domain, they filed suit, alleging that taking their buildings would violate the Public Use Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." Their claims would wind their way to the United States Supreme Court, which concluded in the 1954 case of Berman v. Parker that the condemnations were constitutional.
Pritchett, Wendell E.
"The "Public Menace" of Blight: Urban Renewal and the Private Uses of Eminent Domain,"
Yale Law & Policy Review:
1, Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylpr/vol21/iss1/2