Poletown Neighborhood Council v. Detroit

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Poletown Neighborhood Council v. Detroit, 410 Mich. 616 (1981) (later overruled), was a landmark decision by the Michigan Supreme Court that authorized the demolition of hundreds of businesses, more than a thousand homes, and even several churches in a Polish community near Detroit in order to build a new General Motors plant.

Two decades later, the Michigan Supreme Court repudiated that ruling and returned to the original intent of the “public use” limitation, declaring the Poletown decision to be a “radical departure from fundamental constitutional principles.” County of Wayne v. Hathcock, 471 Mich. at 483 (2004). “The primary objective in interpreting a constitutional provision is to determine the text’s original meaning to the ratifiers, the people, at the time of ratification.” Id. at 468.

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