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The federal government’s potential power to coordinate or take state assets during emergencies

Raymond K. Shin, JD, MPP


The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) allows the federal government to intervene in emergency response efforts without the consent of state governments when there is an emergency that involves a responsibility or authority that is exclusively or pre-eminently granted to the United States. This statute may allow the federal government to coordinate the use of state assets when a state is unable to protect its citizens. Furthermore, the federal government could be able to take state-owned assets and resources under the Takings Clause of the US Constitution to serve the public purpose of responding to a wide-scale emergency as long as there is just compensation for such use. The federal government has yet to employ the Stafford Act or the Takings Clause to coordinate or take state emergency response assets, and although it is unlikely that the federal government would do so in the future, such scenarios may occur under the current legal framework.


emergency management, state, federal, Stafford Act, eminent domain, Takings Clause

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