Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff

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In Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229 (1984), the U.S. Supreme Court held that such economic development qualified as a valid public use under both the Constitution.

The Court considered a Hawaii statute whereby fee title was taken from lessors and transferred to lessees (for just compensation) in order to reduce the concentration of land ownership. The Court unanimously upheld the statute and rejected the Ninth Circuit's view that it was "a naked attempt on the part of the state of Hawaii to take the property of A and transfer it to B solely for B's private use and benefit."[1]

The Court reaffirmed the deferential approach of Berman v. Parker, concluding that the State's purpose of eliminating the "social and economic evils of a land oligopoly" qualified as a valid public use.[2] The Court's opinion also rejected the contention that the mere fact that the State immediately transferred the properties to private individuals upon condemnation somehow diminished the public character of the taking. "[I]t is only the taking's purpose, and not its mechanics," we explained, that matters in determining public use.[3]


  1. Id. at 235 (internal quotation marks omitted).
  2. 467 U.S. at 241-242.
  3. Id. at 244.