Eminent domain and “private nondelegation”

In Boerschig v. Trans-Pecos Pipeline LLC, an effort to enjoin state-court eminent domain proceedings in federal court: “Boerschig contend[ed] that by ceding condemnation power to a private company, Texas eminent domain law offends due process. His argument principally relies on the private nondelegation doctrine, a nook of Fourteenth Amendment law long recognized but seldom invoked.” That obscure but important doctrine provides that “when private parties have the unrestrained ability to decide whether another citizen’s property rights can be restricted, any resulting deprivation happens without ‘process of law.'” Unfortunately for Boehrschig: “The Texas scheme allowing gas pipelines to condemn property does not appear to suffer from either of the twin ills that doomed these zoning and wagesetting laws. It imposes a standard to guide the pipeline companies—that the taking is necessary for “public use”—and provides judicial review of that determination that prevents the company from having the final say.” The Court also rejected a mootness challenge based on the construction of the relevant pipeline, observing that it could still “order that Trans-Pecos return Boerschig’s land to its precondemnation state.” No. 16-50931-CV (Oct. 3, 2017).

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