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Schneider v. District of Columbia

United States District Court for the District of Columbia
117 F. Supp. 705 (1953)


The District of Columbia enacted an urban renewal plan in 1945 that allowed seizure of title to about 15 city blocks within slums or blighted areas. Title to the property transferred to private developers provided at least one-third of new housing would be low-rent. Schneider and Morris (owners) (plaintiffs) owned and operated a department and a hardware store seized by District agencies (defendants). The owners brought consolidated lawsuits challenging the renewal plan as unconstitutional because (1) it authorized by eminent domain taking title to private property and its sale or lease to other private persons for private (instead of public) uses, and (2) it allowed the taking of property in “blighted areas” without sufficiently defining that term to delegate power. The owners also argued that the plan was unconstitutional in application to their particular properties and should be strictly construed to not apply to either commercial properties or any property where no slum existed. The court found the renewal plan constitutional (a ruling later affirmed by the Supreme Court on modified grounds in Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S.26 (1954)).

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Prettyman, C.J.)

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