Donald Trump

Donald Trump's Shameful Eminent Domain Abuse

Trump tried to seize an elderly widow's home via eminent domain.


Credit: Todd Kranin

In 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a local government to seize people's homes and bulldoze their working-class neighborhood so that a private real-estate developer working in cahoots with a powerful private corporation could build fancy new amenities in their place, such as a luxury hotel and conference center. In an interview last night on Fox News, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump gave a ringing endorsement to both that abysmal ruling and the blatant land grab it authorized. "I think eminent domain is wonderful," Trump told host Bret Bair.

But wait, aren't conservatives supposed to be opposed to government attacks on private property? Not according to Trump. "Eminent domain, when it comes to jobs, roads, the public good, I think it's a wonderful thing, I'll be honest with you. And remember, you're not taking property…. I don't think it was explained to most conservatives."

My colleague Matt Welch has already detailed the many fallacies embedded in Trump's shameful endorsement of eminent domain abuse. But since Trump seems to think that conservatives will benefit from a thorough explanation of the issue, I wanted to offer one more piece of relevant information: In 1994 Trump sought to personally profit from eminent domain abuse by using government power to kick an elderly widow out of her Atlantic City home.

This despicable event was made possible by a shadowy state agency known as the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), which sought to take the home of a woman named Vera Coking, who lived just off of Atlantic City's famous beachfront boardwalk, and replace it with a new limousine parking lot for the nearby Trump Plaza hotel and casino.

Thanks to the expert legal help of the Institute for Justice, whose lawyers represented Coking, the CRDA's desire to wield eminent domain on Trump's behalf was laughed out of court. "What has occurred here is analogous to giving Trump a blank check with respect to future development on the property for casino hotel purposes," declared the Superior Court of New Jersey in a sharp ruling against Trump and the CRDA. Vera Coking stayed in her home.

Donald Trump thinks the issue of eminent domains has not been properly "explained to most conservatives." Perhaps Trump might explain why the Constitution should be read to permit the government to kick elderly widows out their homes for the direct benefit of people like him.

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Donald Trump Eminent Domain Supreme Court Election 2016

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23 responses to “Donald Trump's Shameful Eminent Domain Abuse

  1. Donald Trump’s Shameful Eminent Domain Abuse

    It would be shameful, if Trump had any capacity to feel shame, but he clearly doesn’t.

    1. Apparently opponents of eminent domain think someone is getting “ripped off” if a property owner is paid double or triple what the FMV of the property is. I don’t. While I agree someone should not be forced to move if they are given ONLY FMV, that argument goes away once a property owner is paid some multiple of FMV. Then it becomes a reasonable exercise of government force.

      The opponents of eminent domain refuse to contemplate the world that would exist if eminent domain didn’t exist. Donald is right.

      By the way, I’m a libertarian; fiercely so.

  2. The biggest surprise here is that he only tried it once.

  3. Like New Jersey Democrat Chris Christie, Donald “The Donald” Trump has little respect for property rights. But that shouldn’t be a big concern for any limited government types, should it?

    1. Not if he makes gud on him promiss to git rid of them dammed furrinerz and take teh cuntry back! DEY TUK MUH JERB!!!!1!!!!111!!!!! / Trump supporter

  4. I’m sure he offered her many times the value of her home.

    1. If you define 25% of the price she had refused from the previous owner of the casino, then yes.

      I , mean, he even gave her free Neal Diamond tickets, no questions asked.
      Except for “who?”

  5. Well it was the mid-90s. This was probably the case that taught them to ‘blight’ an area first then start in on the eminent domain

    1. The whole of Atlantic City is probably “blighted” by default.

  6. Perhaps Trump might explain why the Constitution should be read to permit the government to kick elderly widows out their homes for the direct benefit of people like him.

    Simple. The old bat is a loser, Trump’s a winner. Q.E.D., bitches!

  7. “Eminent domain, when it comes to jobs, roads, the public good, I think it’s a wonderful thing, I’ll be honest with you. And remember, you’re not taking property…. I don’t think it was explained to most conservatives.”

    He really believes his own bullshit.

  8. She should have sold it to Trump.

    “Coking moved out in 2010 and to a retirement home in the San Francisco Bay Area near her grandson, Ed Casey. Since then Casey has tried to sell the house; putting it on the market in 2011 with an asking price of $5 million.[1][7] As of September 2013 the price was reduced to $995,000.00 [8] The property did not sell as Atlantic City continued to suffer the lingering effects of the financial crisis of 2007?08 and over-building during the boom that preceded it.

    Coking’s property was sold for $530,000 in an auction on July 31, 2014.[9] The reserve price was $199,000, a tenth of the offer Trump had made for the property eight years earlier.” ~ Wikipedia

    1. Re: bagoh20,

      She should have sold it to Trump

      She didn’t want to and Trump did not have the right to it.


    2. She should have sold it to Trump.

      Because she would have made a lot of money? Who’s crazy enough not to think that the value of something is simply a matter of dollars and cents? Certainly not the CRDC – they look only at what the property taxes are going to be and go with what makes them the most money. If Vera Coking is too stupid to realize that only money matters then she certainly should have been forced to sell, for her own good. It’s why when some Koreans showed up at my door and told me my dog looked delicious and offered me $50 for my Duke I jumped all over the deal because I got the dog for free and fifty bucks is fifty bucks. I ain’t stupid.

    3. She should have sold it to Trump.

      That is what I usually think in these cases but there’s no accounting for sentimentality.

  9. The land was to be used to park limousines. You know whose limousines were going to be parked there? The sorts of people who are rich and successful enough to ride in limousines, that’s who. Did Vera Coking park her limousine there? Of course not, Vera Coking is the sort of loser who doesn’t even own a limousine. What sort of fucked-up world do we live in where losers who don’t even own a limousine can tell rich and successful limousine owners where they can and cannot park their limousine?

  10. You Cucksmotarians just hate Trump because he’s a real man, and a WINNER..

    Go vote for Elizabeth Warren!

  11. She should have sold it to Trump.

    She could, had she wished, offered him some sort of right of first refusal; possibly with an up front payment. A call option on the property.

    However, at the time, she obviously had no desire to vacate, and that should have been the end of the story. I despise those who attempt to use the cudgel of the state to get their way.

  12. “Eminent domain, when it comes to jobs, roads, the public good, I think it’s a wonderful thing, I’ll be honest with you. And remember, you’re not taking property…. I don’t think it was explained to most conservatives.”

    I don’t get it. If you’re not taking property, what are you taking?

    1. They’re not taking property, they’re buying it (at the point of a gun, more or less)

      1. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and the excuses of apologists.

  13. Let’s be clear. Eminent domain is authorized by the fifth amendment to the U.S. constitution which reads, “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    Purist libertarians like me can oppose this — and the SCOTUS decision in Kelo v. City of New London — but Trump’s support for existing law puts him in line with other constitutionalists,.

  14. Trump’s billions have made him awesome
    and billionaires are awesome
    and all the millions are fucking swell
    and the fucking ports that Mr. Rich Guy rolls into
    and the oceans and shit Mr. Rich Guy travels
    has zero bearing on wealth.

    Rich, fucking super wealthy fucking humans
    are people. Like the Florida Man. Just with the ability
    to be bored forever. So, nasty horrible fucks are the same
    whether super wealthy or super poor.

    So my point is, Trump is a billionaire who happens to act like a thug
    who pulls a gun on the boy in the back alley and shoots him in the head with
    a glock for his 125 buck shoes….

    Same dudes- different world.

    I lost two black friends in inner city Toledo to Nike Jordan killings- shot dead over a fucking dumbass who could put a ball in a net for corporations.

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