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Beyond Kelo

An Experimental Study of Public Opposition to Eminent Domain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 October 2022

Logan Strother*
Syracuse University
Contact the author at


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.

Research Article
© 2016 by the Law and Courts Organized Section of the American Political Science Association. All rights reserved.

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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


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