Donald Trump

Donald Trump vs. Clarence Thomas

Trump loves Kelo. Justice Thomas does not.


Credit: C-SPAN

Speaking before a crowd in South Carolina this weekend, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump spoke out about his least and most favorite Supreme Court justices. As the Associated Press reports, Trump attacked Chief Justice John Roberts "while praising Associate Justice Clarence Thomas as his favorite member of the high court." As Trump put it, Thomas is "very strong and consistent."

I wonder if Trump has had a chance to read Justice Thomas' "very strong and consistent" dissenting opinion in Kelo v. City of New London, the 2005 eminent domain case in which a liberal majority led by Justice John Paul Stevens allowed a Connecticut municipality to seize people's homes and bulldoze their neighborhood so that a private developer working in cahoots with the Pfizer corporation could have a blank slate on which to operate.

Trump has of course repeatedly praised Kelo and endorsed sweeping eminent domain powers for government officials. (Trump has also sought to personally profit from eminent domain abuse.) When the conservative site Breitbart asked Trump to respond to me and other critics of his eminent domain stance, Trump doubled down on his support for Justice Stevens' disastrous Kelo decision.

Which brings us back to Clarence Thomas. In his Kelo dissent, Thomas thoroughly rejected the unconstitutional nonsense peddled by the likes of John Paul Stevens and Donald Trump. "If ever there were justification for intrusive judicial review of constitutional provisions that protect 'discrete and insular minorities,'" Thomas wrote, "surely that principle would apply with great force to the powerless groups and individuals the Public Use Clause protects. The deferential standard this Court has adopted for the Public Use Clause is therefore deeply perverse. It encourages 'those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development
firms' to victimize the weak."

Perhaps one of the moderators at tonight's GOP presidential debate will ask Trump to reconcile his support for the "wonderful" Kelo majority with his purported admiration for the justice who denounced that very majority in Kelo's strongest dissent.

NEXT: Does the Libertarian Support for Gun Rights Lead to U.S. Foreign Policy Adventurism?

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35 responses to “Donald Trump vs. Clarence Thomas

  1. He praised Clarence Thomas right after getting all sadface about Scalia being “tough” on blacks by mentioning anti-affirmative-action briefs in oral argument? What the fuck does he think Thomas’s position on AA is?

  2. So Damon, I note that Stossel said he is OK with eminent domain if it’s used for things like highways, railroad tracks, AND pipelines. Pipelines.

    Considering the fact that the author of the 5th, James Madison, specifically said public use, not public interest, what say you? Sure, the public uses highways, uses railroads, does the public use an oil pipeline? Or is that only used by an oil company? A pipeline like Keystone.

    1. Shut the fuck up, Donnie, you’re out of your element.

    2. I don’t know of anyone here who much supported the Keystone pipeline, and I know I personally was against it because it used eminent domain. Funny how it takes a pipeline for progressives to finally “get” the issue with eminent domain. Welcome to libertarianism. Take off your shoes before you come in though, don’t want you tracking in any progressivism on our carpet.

      1. See the quote I used above from Reason and libertarian Stossel. He thinks pipelines are part of eminent domain. Now you know one “here.”

      2. Public-private collusion has a long history – going back to the railroads at least. We got our electric transmission system that way. Water pipes. etc.

        Until autonomous dwellings proliferate I think some of this collusion is not only beneficial to the cronys but to the general public as well. Opening the poles to any one who wants to string coms cables is a good thing.

        And because of all that the decisions are political. Sucks. I like my cable, water, sewage, electricity…. etc.

    3. I should also say that it’s too bad Obama didn’t reject the pipeline for its eminent domain aspects. Unfortunately, the ED was probably the one thing Obama liked about it because it’s well in keeping with his principals of government-first. He rejected it because he believes in his heart of hearts that you can generate energy with unicorn farts and faerie dust.

      1. *principles* (although the former actually works too)

      2. You still can at least be happy that some property won’t be grabbed from Nebraska farmers. And anyway, I’m just asking Damon to weigh in on it since I haven’t seen him do so yet…maybe he has.

        If libertarians like Stossel have their way, more pipelines will be built using eminent domain.

        1. If libertarians like Stossel have their way, more pipelines will be built using eminent domain.

          Unfortunately, the Kelo decision specifically set the precedent which said that lawmakers COULD use eminent domain for a private project.

          Me today, you tomorrow.

          1. Cherry-picking and joe have a very long history.

    4. Railroads are private too. And highways can be too.

      I oppose ED in all forms, but military bases and courthouses may be about my flexible limit without disgust.

      1. The difference being the public has use of those tracks, those roads. Not the oil pipeline.

        1. I still don’t get your insistence on the narrow definition of public use. So, you agree that Kelo was an unconstitutional abomination and the words “public use” meant “public use” and not “public purpose”? If so, come on in, the water’s fine.

          1. I believe in Madison’s take, that the definition is narrow. Not broad, like Stossel.

            1. Madison opposed public finance of roads and canals. He specifically vetoed a bill with a detailed takedown of its unconstitutionality. I dont think his ED is as wide as yours.

              Narrow up!

              1. Yeah, I may have to. Good point.

              2. That’s why Madison is my favorite president.

                According to him the Federal government had no authority to finance roads without a constitutional amendment because enumerated powers.

          2. I like this water!

      2. I agree with this take. If the government (or a private entity) want something bad enough, pay up! Otherwise, fuck off. Government does not have a right to my (or anyone else’s) property.

        Same thing with my car, dammit! I don’t care how many of you want it…. and I don’t want your bicycle either.

  3. Trump is pushing the Overton window to the right, an herculean task. He anchors and asks for 3 times what he wants. God bless him. Trump’s manifesto is “The Art of the Deal”, not “Mein Kampf”. The fallback is Ted Cruz. But Cruz is a mystic and far less acceptable to me.

    1. Trump is pushing the Overton window to the right, an herculean task. He anchors and asks for 3 times what he wants. God bless him.

      he’s also a statist douche nozzle so he’s got that going for him.

      1. He is indeed a statist douche nozzle. He’s pushing the Overton window not only rightward, but also downward on the Nolan chart.

      2. All political office seekers are ‘statists douch nozzle(s)’. That’s not a helpful argument for a voter.

        1. That’s not a helpful argument for a voter.

          I think i see your problem.

    2. GOP infiltrator alert: this one hasn’t even leafed through Mein Kampf, which simply drools religious altruism. When Orwell Reviewed it he gleefully pointed out conservatives praised it because they admired Hitler as the “good guy.”

  4. your equating logic and reason to deranged narcissist who probably prides himself on his ability to “shoot from the hip”.

  5. “I wonder if Trump has had a chance to read”


  6. Technically, it’s Thomas who loves Kelo. Trump loves New London.

  7. I hope that one of these days, I’ll have occasion to meet one of the “justices” who violated their oaths of office with their decisions on Raich or Kelo, and have the chance to ask them: “So, when did you decide to serve power instead of justice, you slimy little shyster?”


  8. Reason writers are not good at smear job backstabbing because ours is a policy of principles, not poltroons. Whoever is urging the magazine to do this doubtless has an agenda and budget. so I propose simply copying the Scott Adams critiques and paying him as a contributor. You get boots on the Trump, intelligently written, and free up talent for writing abt sth other than the whining of a bunch of mangy antiabortion prohibitionists over the rich dude they all envy.

  9. Who is “Clarence Thomas”??? There is no Supreme Court justice called “Clarence Thomas”. The true name of the man you are writing about is LONG DONG SILVER.

  10. The Keystone pipeline may, or may not, be a profitable venture. The future price of oil will determine that. Could the pipeline be built profitably without ED (Eminent Domain, not Erectile Disfunction)? I say “probably” because I have heard no proof that a route could not be found without the use of land theft. It comes down to “it’s cheaper to buy off a few politicians than to pay what the right of way is worth”.

    In terms of damage, a pipeline going through a small portion of a large ranch is a lot less invasive than the seizure of a widow’s home paying her less than a quarter of the the value of the property. That doesn’t justify theft, but does show some of the priorities of the people involved.

    In any event, the pipeline is not being fought in terms of property rights, it’s being fought on the premise that carbon dioxide will destroy all life on earth even though the oil will still be burned just not in America. It’s simply another war by the progressive Luddites against human progress.

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