Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 October 2022
The power of government to take private property for public use has been a frequent source of political disquiet because of the tension it creates with notions of individual rights ingrained in liberal society. The backlash against takings after Kelo offers a case in point. Existing research has focused on the public’s distaste for the taking of homes and has thus missed an important cause of the backlash: the purpose for which property is taken. I utilize a combination of experimental and observational methods to advance our understanding of this important issue, finding that purpose is crucial in shaping attitudes toward takings.
The author gratefully acknowledges funding from the Institute for Humane Studies and the Department of Political Science at Syracuse University that made this research possible. I thank Shana Gadarian for patiently guiding this project from its inception and giving generously of both her time and her expertise on public attitudes and experimental methods. Additionally, I benefited greatly from comments and suggestions from Spencer Piston, David Klein, Laura Hatcher, participants at the 2015 Conference on Empirical Legal Studies, and the anonymous referees. Finally, I thank Laura Hatcher, Randy Burnside, and Patrick Murray for generously sharing data. Replication materials can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.7910/DVN/QUBHXU.