Donald Trump

Donald Trump's Putrid Embrace of Eminent Domain Abuse

Another day, another shameful defense of eminent domain abuse by Trump.

|

Credit: Todd Kranin

At a press stop in New Hampshire, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump took a question about eminent domain from Washington Examiner reporter Philip Klein. Trump's answer was as putrid as you might expect:

"Property rights are a big issue in New Hampshire," the Examiner noted. "In Atlantic City you used eminent domain laws aggressively to expand your casino."

Trump interjected by calling this a "stupid question" before launching into a defense of eminent domain.

"I am all for private property rights," Trump said. "There's nobody who wants property taken away less than I do, believe me. I would lose a lot of money if my property were taken away. But when you're building a road, when you're building a highway, when you're building whatever it is you're building from a municipal standpoint, you may need a corner of a piece of property." As he said this, he pinched his fingers together to demonstrate the smallness of the property.

What garbage. In Kelo, the famous Supreme Court eminent domain ruling which Trump has repeatedly praised, the government's land grab wiped out an entire neighborhood, not "a corner of a piece of property." Similarly, when New York officials wielded eminent domain in order to clear space for the Barclay's Center basketball arena in Brooklyn, the government's bulldozers laid waste to multiple homes and businesses. An entire city block was erased from the map. The examples of this sort of eminent domain abuse go on and on.

Indeed, Trump's own eminent domain abuse follows the same ugly pattern. For instance, when he joined forces with New Jersey officials in 1994 in the hopes of using eminent domain to build a new limousine parking lot for the Trump Plaza hotel and casino, Trump and his government pals did not merely seek to take "a corner of a piece of property;" they sought to raze the entire home of an elderly widow named Vera Coking. That blatant land grab was thankfully laughed out of court.

To be sure, the U.S. Constitution does permit the use of eminent domain in certain very limited circumstances, such as the building of genuine "public uses" such as roads or bridges. But that limited constitutional approach is not what Donald Trump has embraced. Trump's brand of eminent domain would grant government officials (and their crony capitalist allies like him) what amounts to a blank check to take whatever private property they claim to "need." Trump's vision of untrammeled government power is an affront to the very idea of constitutionally limited government.

NEXT: The U.K.'s Plan to 'Reform' Citizen Surveillance: More, More, More!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. As terrible is Trump is, would you rather him or Hillary?

    1. There is literally no difference at all.

      1. Well, one of them is blonder, and one of them makes creepy head-nods. I see clear differences, Hugh.

        1. One has touched Bill Clinton’s junk, and the other is Hillary.

    2. I am almost convinced at this point that Trump’s only purpose is to throw the election to Hillary. This is not some tin foil hat conspiracy theory. Everyone knows that Bill encouraged him to do this. What other purpose would it be other than for ol Willy to get to be first dude so he can molest some more young interns and collect a few more hundred million in speaking fees?

      1. Trump loves the sound of his name being mentioned in the news in regards to the presidential polls more than most of us love liberty and non-deep dish pizza.

        I don’t think the Donald needed any encouragement to spend money to further inflate his enormous ego. Narcissists have their own built-in motivation for things like this.

        1. Of course being prez would be a great consolation prize. But I don’t think he’s counting on it. He’s counting on throwing the election to Hillary and loading up on piles of crony bucks, the likes of which have never been seen before.

          1. You think Trump is actually counting on throwing the election? That’s a level of conspiracy theorism that I don’t quite buy into. I could buy that Bill Clinton encouraged him to run knowing the tohubohu it would cause, but I don’t think there’s any need to invoke anything beyond “Trump thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room world, and loves seeing his name in print.”

            1. I have absolutely no doubt Trump will lose to Hillary if he gets the nomination. No doubt, zero, none.

              1. Interesting. I actually think he would crush her pretty easily because so many people will vote against her.

                1. I’m not even sure he’d win the nomination, but I think any Republican will crush her

                  1. Any of them except for Trump. Bush would also lose to her, but he has no chance so that’s a moot point. The Donald is Hillary’s ticket.

        2. The Trump CT I’m fond of is that he entered the race initially to try and stick it to Jeb when Jeb shot down Trump’s proposed Florida casino. If so, then I’d say Trump’s succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

          I’d vote for Trump over Hilary for two reasons. First, Supreme Court nominees. His may be more Souter than Scalia, but I can see hers being absolutely awful. Second, if HRC gets elected, it tells her that all of the evil corrupt criminal shit that she’s done and poorly covered up, still wasn’t enough to meaningfully impede her goals. IOW, if she got away with that, God only knows how far she’d try to push the boundaries of acceptable political behavior. Farther than Trump would, anyway IMHO.

      2. My counter-theory: Bill doesn’t want Hilary to win. He has it good – tons of money for a speech here or there, travelling all over the world, orgy parties on Whore Island, all without any scrutiny. If she wins, his situation won’t get better in any way – in fact, he’ll have to enjoy himself less. But, sabotaging her without implicating himself is hard. However, double bluff with Trump might work!

        1. That’s plausible also. I don’t know why anyone thinks that any crazy theory is beyond something that the Clintons would try to pull. My theory is that they hoped for a contest against Jeb and when they realized they were not going to get it, Bill called up Trump to shake things up a little, maybe even get the nomination and ensure a Hillary win. And it will, it’s probably Hillary’s only hope. So it makes sense.

          I don’t see why Bill would fear being first dude. I mean, he’s going to be the first first dude, making him doubly famous. And while Hill’s busy with all her dirty dealings and all the spotlight on her, Bill’s gonna be roaming the halls of the capital building late at night, tushy sqeezing some young interns and living it up. It’s going to be a dream for him. And he’s going to be twice as rich as well as famous.

        2. You better explain better how that double bluff w Trump might work to sabotage Hillary.

    3. I couldn’t care less.

    4. SF will continue producing content regardless, so either way we lose win lose win no matter what.

      1. I’m not sure I’m ready for four years of stories about Trump and his little Jabberwock mouth.

        1. Snicker-snack!

          1. [vomits]

          2. Anyway. Sweet’n’Low, i think Damon is trying to horn in on your literary turf with that headline about Trump’s “putrid embrace.”

            1. Bah, he has miles to go to get into SugarFreeLand.

              1. A journey of a million miles begins with a single step, Swiss.

    5. I wouldn’t vote for Trump, but I don’t think he’d be worse than Obama. I think Hillary would be one of the worst presidents of all time.

      1. Not one of the worst, THE worst. That being said, no way in hell I vote for Trump.

      2. That said, Obama is terrible…but I think Hillary has a shot at being worse because she’s so brazenly corrupt and evil.

        1. Eh, we’ve had brazenly corrupt and evil Presidents before. The 19th century was no picnic.

          1. Without any data to back me up, my hunch is that the capacity for modern presidents to fuck things sideways 3 different ways, and harm more people in general, is much higher today.

            If you lived far enough away from DC, you could likely safely ignore most of what came out of it.

    6. Trump is the only candidate that would make me heavily consider voting for Hillary.

      With Hillary in office, at the least you’d have an obstructionist GOP congress cockblocking her every move.

      On the other hand, Trump has many of the same boneheaded ideas- and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him godawful on Gun Rights and Healthcare Reform. The problem is, when he proposes these initiatives, many in the GOP congress will agree just because TEAM RED.

    7. Which one is the shit sandwich and which is the giant douche-bag?

      This is an important detail.

      1. The douchebag is full of shit, and the shit sandwich is served inside a douchbag.

        1. The Presidential Centipede

          1. The Ouroboros cometh!

    8. Hillary. As bad as she would be, she would be too cowardly to do something crazy like invade Mexico or nuke Canada or appoint Kim Kardashian to the Supreme Court.

  2. As he said this, he pinched his fingers together to demonstrate the smallness of the property….

    No, you just interpreted the gesture wrong. What he meant was how small the peasants are who are having their property taken away to reward important guys, like him. Those peasants are almost as small as the brains of the dumbasses who support this charlatan for president.

    1. Those dumbasses include Piers Morgan and Geraldo Rivera. I bet you wish you were as smart as them.

      1. Oh yes, I sit around every day and wish I was as smart as those two. I practically cannot sleep at night because of thinking about it.

        I mean, what aspiring intellect these days doesn’t dream of being on the level of genius with Piers and Geraldo? Surely everyone dreams of that.

      2. The internet has permanently damaged my ability to distinguish between sarcasm and genuine stupidity.

        1. Hanging out on Hit’n’Run is not going to help you with that.

  3. “That Naboth fellow has a nice vineyard…I’m sure he’ll sell it to me, his King.”

  4. when you’re building a road, when you’re building a highway, when you’re building whatever it is you’re building from a municipal standpoint,

    This sounds a lot like the affirmative action / race preference bait and switch. Proponents of AA sell the program as advertising advertising jobs or student positions in alternative media. But when they execute the plan somehow they grant minorities an acceptance qualification the same size as the difference between a 4.0 and a Blutarsky.

  5. Trump and his government pals did not merely seek to take “a corner of a piece of property;” they sought to raze the entire home of an elderly widow named Vera Coking.

    Whatever Damon. That is a stupid example and you are stupid for bringing it up. What was that house even worth? Nothing! I offered her way more for that house than she could sell it for, and she still said no. How dumb can you be! When I am President I will Make America Great Again. How can you Make America Great when some old broad wants to stay in her smelly house? When I am President I will make the Best deals because I am a tough negotiator. Everyone will be happy. We will have the classiest roads and the Best things. People will not say no to me.

    1. That’s actually really good. Uncanny.

    2. I mean, property rights, I don’t know about. I just don’t know about.

    3. We will have the classiest roads and the Best things

      And I will pay for it all! Well, someone from Heineken…

    4. You’re a great American who’s Making America Great again, Hugh!

      USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!

    5. A-. You forgot to comment on the old broads looks, or mention how many cats she probably had.

      1. I will bear that i mind for next time. My Trump-speak is a work in progress.

        1. Trump-speak is a work in progress.

          Almost sounds like a line from Blade Runner.

          1. *sigh* That quote was supposed to include My

            Trump just fucks up everything.

  6. I’m sure the Palm Beach officials are happy to know they can run a hiway on-ramp through Trump’s mansion and he’ll be good to go along.

  7. “I am all for private property rights,” Trump said.

    “Mine, not yours. But I’m all for them,” he followed up.

    1. “I am all for private property rights…but….”

      No, that doesn’t sound familiar at all.

  8. Did I mention how ‘UUUUUUUUUUUUGE I am on property rights? ‘UUUUUUUUUUUGE I tell you!

    /Trump Voice

  9. I think Donald Trump accidentally slipped up and let slip a dirty little secret about Eminent Domain- that cities (before Kelo) used exactly what he said- “tiny corners of property” to give developers big windfalls.

    In Denver, there was a nice little greek restaurant called Ilios downtown. The city started producing plans for expansion of the Art Museum and Denver library right near that restaurant. The owners were elated. For years they had been on thin margins, and suddenly they were going to have a chance to really start making money. When a developer came to them offering to buy out their land for a large mixed residential project, the owners declined.

    Fast forward a few months, and the restaurant gets an ED notice. It turns out that there were changes to the public plans, and it would require a small part of a parking garage to go over their property. So, the entire plot (including restaurant) was condemned under ED. Then the city turned around and gave the remaining land to the developer who built their project on the land.

    This is how even before Kelo, cities regularly seized property and delivered it to private individuals. Trump likely made good use of this practice, and he may have just conflated the issues.

    1. He may wind up with half of NYC after Hillary gets elected.

  10. Trump interjected by calling this a “stupid question”

    Trump proves, once again, that there are only stupid answers.

  11. Look, when you’re constantly winning at the real estate game, making uuuuuuge deals, an entire neighborhood is just a little corner of a piece of property.

  12. they sought to raze the entire home of an elderly widow named Vera Coking. That blatant land grab was thankfully laughed out of court

    Ah, good times. Now they’d freely toss that old bitch out on her ass.

  13. I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h? Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link… Try it, you won’t regret it!……

    http://www.OnlineJobs100.Com

  14. the famous Supreme Court eminent domain ruling which Trump has repeatedly praised, the government’s land grab wiped out an entire neighborhood,

    You know who else praised the ruling?

    Hint: It rhymes with Hailey Boss.

  15. I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h? Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link… Try it, you won’t regret it!……

    http://www.4CyberWorks.Com

  16. “a corner of a piece of property;” they sought to raze the entire home of an elderly widow named Vera Coking.

    In Seattle, that’s just solid progressive politics.

  17. IT is good of Reason to write these articles. It is the truth and there is never anything wrong with telling the truth. They are, however, utterly irrelevant to the election or Trump’s prospects in it. Trump is popular because he is viewed as someone who will stick it to the establishment and change things. His stance on immigration and resulting popularity because of it is just the most obvious manifestation of this. So no one cares what Trump actually thinks or worries about what he would actually do in office. Further, the public knows politicians are liars and never come through on their promises. So they have stopped caring what those promises are. They just want someone who is going to make something happen and change the current dynamic of the country. And Trump is the one candidate who has figured this fact out.

      1. New York City is not America, thank God. And even there, they are figuring out electing the retarded kid was a really bad idea. DiBlasio has managed to do the unthinkable, be so bad that it even embarrasses NYC Progs.

    1. Is imminent domain abuse an issue that involves the president in any way at all? I’m pretty sure it isn’t, so attacks against Trump on those grounds are little more than ad hominems.

      It’s telling that the area of property rights abuse that the president does have control over – regulatory partial taking – has disappeared as an issue at this point. Certainly one unworthy of questioning presidential candidates of their opinions and possible policies. Unlike the totally more important issue of city government’s land use policies.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.