Berman v. Parker
|Berman v. Parker|
|Berman et al v. Parker et al, 348 US 26 (Oct 1954)|
|Argued||Oct 19, 1954|
|Decided||Nov 22, 1954|
|Whether police power extends to aesthetic considerations|
|The court found that police power extends to aesthetic considerations on the grounds that police powers enables states and Congress to use their discretion to achieve their goals|
|Redevelopment Act of 1945|
Berman v. Parker involved the condemnation of commercial land for an area wide redevelopment plan in a southwestern section of Washington DC. The appellant in this case claimed that his commercial property was unconstitutionally taken under the due process and just compensation clauses of the Fifth Amendment. The appellants contended that because their property was commercial and not used for human habitation, it did not constitute a slum property and so could not be justifiably taken by the District. At issue was the scope of the Districts power to take properties under the Redevelopment Act of 1945, specifically if that power includes aesthetics..
The court determined that the District’s taking of the appellant’s property was constitutionally sound. The tenth amendment of the constitution reserves police power to the authority of the states or in this case, the Congress of the District of Columbia. Police power entitles Congress to “enact measures to preserve and protect the safety, health, welfare, and morals of the community.”. The court determined that the limits to police power are wide and within the discretion of the legislature.
The opinion states, “The concept of the public welfare is broad and inclusive. It is within the power of the legislature to determine that the community should be beautiful as well as healthy, spacious as well as clean, well-balanced as well as carefully patrolled. In the present case, the Congress and its authorized agencies have made determinations that take into account a wide variety of values. It is not for us to reappraise them. If those who govern the District of Columbia decide that the Nation's Capital should be beautiful as well as sanitary, there is nothing in the Fifth Amendment that stands in the way.”
The court goes on to assert that once the action is within the confines of police power, it is within Congress’s discretion to determine the actions that it must take and the plan that it must implement to realize its goal. Under this deduction, Congress is authorized to take lands that are not residential for the purposes of a wider redevelopment plan that not only rids the area of slums but also institutes preventative measure to ensure that the area does not return to a blighted state. Congress is also free to use its discretion in determining whether the public’s best interest is served in using public or private enterprise. Once Congress is authorized to use police power, the particulars of the action they take are within their discretion.