The Wall Street Journal has written some rousing editorials against the abuse of eminent domain, but today's paper carries an article that emerged from the paper's "CEO Summit" and that seems to have been produced somehow in collaboration with MIT. It lists, as among the CEOs top five recommendations for energy policy: "FEDERAL PLAN FOR ELECTRIC GRID. Congress should enact federal authority to deploy a more efficient electric grid that enables the diversification of U.S. energy supplies, gives the federal government more authority to site transmission lines through eminent domain and gives the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the power to allocate costs." Emphasis ours. Over at the Wall Street Journal, they sound like the Socialists of Sanford Bernstein. We're not saying that eminent domain should never be used. It's in the Fifth Amendment for a reason. But there's also a reason that there's a reference to private property being taken "for public use." Whether a transmission line for a privately owned utility qualifies as a "public use" is an interesting question that has the potential to cut across some of the usual partisan lines. Those noted libertarians Henry Waxman, Charles Schumer, and Hillary Clinton are skeptical, while Vice President Cheney tends to support the idea.
WSJ CEOs Tout Eminent Domain