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.