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Abstract

This comment, in Part I, traces the gradual erosion and decline of the public purpose doctrine in North Carolina from its roots in the Constitution of 1868 to recent North Carolina court decisions interpreting its meaning and scope. In examining the public purpose doctrine as it is addressed in North Carolina case law, four distinct categories of cases where the term has been invoked and applied are analyzed. Part II proffers a definition of "public purpose" as set forth by the cases discussed in Part I and proposes a more stringent test for courts and public bodies to apply in determining whether a proposed government expenditure satisfies the public purpose requirements of the North Carolina Constitution. Part 11 further argues that the public purpose doctrine, as it is now defined by the North Carolina courts, is inadequate to safeguard public funds from abuse by private interests. Accordingly, this Part contends a clearer, more stringent definition should be formulated as an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution. Finally, the comment concludes by asserting now, in the aftermath of Kelo, is the appropriate time for the courts and the North Carolina General Assembly to address this issue.

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