Public Use Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Public Use, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Public Use?

(n) Public use is the decision to convert a property held by any individual or association of person for limited access, to be used for general access or purpose. For example a park owned by a joint family is acquired by the Government to convert it to a public park accessible by all

History and Meaning of Public Use

Public use is a legal term that refers to the ability of the government to take private property for a public purpose. The idea has its roots in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. According to the Takings Clause in the amendment, "private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation." This means that the government can take private property as long as it is for a public use, such as building a road, a school, or a park, and that the owner is paid just compensation.

Examples of Public Use

  1. The government takes a strip of land from a private owner to build a highway that will benefit the public.
  2. A city council uses eminent domain to acquire a blighted property and redevelop it into a community center for public use.
  3. A state government takes over privately owned water sources in order to provide clean water to communities.

Legal Terms Similar to Public Use

  1. Eminent Domain: This is the power of the government to take private property for public use.
  2. Just Compensation: This refers to the payment that the government must make to the owner of the private property that is taken.
  3. Fifth Amendment: This amendment to the U.S. Constitution contains the Takings Clause, which is the basis for the principle of public use.