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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Hawaii Housing Authority
No. 83-236
No. 83-283
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
Facts of the Case 

After extensive hearings in the mid-1960s, the Hawaii legislature discovered that while Federal and State governments owned nearly 49 percent of the land in Hawaii, another 47 percent was owned by only 72 private landowners. To combat this concentration of ownership, the legislature enacted the Land Reform Act of 1967. The Act adopted a method of redistribution in which title in real property could be taken from lessors and transferred to lessees. Frank E. Midkiff, a landholder, challenged the Act.


Did the Land Reform Act of 1967 violate the Public Use Clause of the Fifth Amendment?

Decision: 8 votes for Hawaii Housing Authority, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Takings Clause

In a unanimous decision, the Court held that the Public Use Clause did not preclude Hawaii from taking title in real property, with just compensation, for the purpose of reducing the concentration of ownership. Noting that Hawaii's statute was rationally related to a conceivable public purpose, the Court argued that "debates over the wisdom of takings" were best carried out by legislatures, not by federal courts. The Court also held that the fact that the property taken by eminent domain was transferred to private beneficiaries did not condemn the law to having a solely private purpose.

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HAWAII HOUSING AUTHORITY v. MIDKIFF. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1983/1983_83_141>.
HAWAII HOUSING AUTHORITY v. MIDKIFF, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1983/1983_83_141 (last visited August 25, 2015).
"HAWAII HOUSING AUTHORITY v. MIDKIFF," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1983/1983_83_141.