by Steven Geoffrey Gieseler
Michael Crichton's new book apparently involves a plot to harvest revolutionary cancer-fighting cells from a man who shows a resistance to the disease. When the plot fails, the government tries to step in to take the cells through--you guessed it--eminent domain.
While this does sound fanciful, it is true that governments can and do use eminent domain to take property other than the usual homes and lots and businesses. A famous example is Abraham Zapruder's original film of the assassination of President Kennedy, which the federal government seized via eminent domain in 1998. After a dispute over what constituted just compensation, Zapruder's family eventually was paid sixteen million dollars.