CHICAGO, BURLINGTON, AND QUINCY RAILROAD v. CITY OF CHICAGO
The City of Chicago wanted to connect two disjoint sections of Rockwell Street between 18th and 19th Streets, over private property. This property was owned by various individuals but also included a right-of-way owned by the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad Corporation. To accomplish this, the city petitioned in Cook County Circuit Court to have the necessary land condemned. The land was condemned. The individuals were awarded compensation, while the railroad was awarded just one dollar. The railroad appealed the judgment, alleging that the condemnation deprived it of its property in violation of the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed the judgment.
Did Chicago's condemnation of and compensation for Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad's land violate the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?
No. In a 7-1 decision, the Court held that the Due Process clause required the states to award just compensation when taking private property for public use. While the Court warned of the danger of a government that did not have any restraints in exercising eminent domain, fair compensation could address that danger. Since the procedures specified in Illinois' general statutes were followed in this case, the railroad's Fourteenth Amendment rights were not violated. [This case marked the first time that the Court 'incorporated' a specific provision of the Bill of Rights – the "just compensation" requirement of the Fifth Amendment – through the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and applied that requirement to the states. This approach set the stage for further incorporation of other Bill of Rights provisions.]