Eminent domain is the power and right of the government to take property from private landowners. At the federal level, this right and power come from the 5th Amendment to the United States constitutions, which provides that the federal government, including its agencies, have the right to take private property if the purpose is for a “public use” so long as “just compensation” is paid. “Just compensation” in this use means “fair compensation” or “fair value.”
States and local governments also have the power and right to acquire property from private landowners pursuant to state constitutions and municipal charters. They too must also pay fair compensation when land is acquired.