Donald Trump

Will Trump's Support for Eminent Domain Abuse Hurt Him in Today's Iowa Caucus?

Trump trashes property rights, endorses eminent domain abuse. We'll find out if Iowa voters care.


Credit: Todd Kranin

Donald Trump has repeatedly endorsed the idea that government officials should have virtually unlimited power to seize private property via eminent domain. Trump has even praised the Supreme Court's notorious 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London, in which the majority opinion of liberal Justice John Paul Stevens' allowed a Connecticut municipality to bulldoze a working-class neighborhood on behalf of a speculative development scheme that was supposed to broaden the tax base while also benefitting the Pfizer corporation (that scheme turned out to be an utter failure).

What's more, Trump does not just talk the talk. In his real estate career, Trump repeatedly tried to profit from eminent domain abuse, such as when he joined forces with Atlantic City officials in the hopes of kicking an elderly widow out of her home in order to make way for a limousine parking lot for the nearby Trump Plaza hotel and casino (that eminent domain boondoggle was laughed out of court).

As voters head to the polls today in Iowa, it remains to be seen if Trump's embrace of eminent domain abuse will hurt his chances. Writing last week at The Washington Post, reporter Katie Zezima offers a few reasons why it might:

The topic could resonate in the first voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa, where companies have run into stiff opposition after floating the idea of using eminent domain for pipelines or other projects. Eminent domain is a particularly hot issue for many conservative and libertarian-leaning voters, who want to limit the power of government to encroach on personal property….

On Saturday, Trump…talked about how eminent domain was necessary in Pella, Iowa, where many landowners strongly oppose the prospect of the government taking land for a new regional airport.

Eminent domain is a contentious issue in other parts of Iowa as well. Last year, Gov. Terry Branstad (R) said he supported the use of eminent domain for some pipeline projects. One proposal would carry 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day from North Dakota, cutting across 18 Iowa counties. A $2 million transmission line to send wind energy from Iowa to Illinois also included the use of eminent domain; last year, the project was put on hold while the company behind it figures out how to move forward.

According to a 2014 Des Moines Register poll, 57 percent of Iowans favor the pipeline, but only 19 percent said eminent domain should be used to construct pipelines or power lines.

Will Trump's support for eminent domain abuse hurt him in today's Iowa caucus? We'll find out soon enough.

Related: Donald Trump v. Clarence Thomas

NEXT: Ohio Votes No On Pot

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  1. We’ll find out if Iowa voters care.

    Just spit-balling here, but I’m going with “no”.

    1. I came in here to make this exact comment, but I see I was beaten to it.

    2. See, no one wants to take over a corn field to put up a hotel or a hog slaughtering plant there. So it’s a very abstract concept.

      1. True and he’s all for making fuel from corn and fucking ta payers and motorist. He may even want to build government subsidized wind mills.They’ll be HUGE..

        1. No, it’s, “YUGE!”

          1. I do not speak New York crony. and here’s an x I forgot.

    3. Never assume that the average voter is principled or even knowledgeable on any given issue.

  2. Isn’t ALL eminent domain an abuse of property rights ?

    1. Yeah, it’s less a question of “am I getting fucked” as opposed to “how deeply am I getting fucked.”

      1. I’ve heard of cases where well-connected people using eminent domain to get above market prices on property they want to sell anyway. So in those cases eminent domain is more about official corruption than property rights abuse.

    2. No. The framers in fact gave the government limited eminent domain powers, and they were smart to do so.

      The government of today of course abuses the hell out it (unfortunately with the blessing of the Supreme Court), but sometimes it’s justified.

      1. When is it justified? And how is it justified?

        1. The legal (as opposed to moral) justification is it has to strictly be limited to a public purpose. Public purpose of course is where the shenanigans take place. When it was authored, the takings clause was likely written with shit like “ummm…we REALLY need a new naval gun battery in the Baltimore Harbor” in mind. Unfortunately, Kelo is the intellectual progeny of commerce clause overreach so “generating public revenues” is now considered a “public purpose” as opposed to a road or airport expansion.

          There isn’t a moral justification that I’m aware of for taking someone’s personal property at the point of a gun, even if you leave a bag of coins behind you.

          1. The moral justification derives from acting in good faith to build something of “public use” and paying a fair value that everyone else in the path of the highway agrees was fair.

            While I am sympathetic to the old codger who refuses to sell his home to make way for the new interstate, I think it’s a bit silly to expect an interstate that will last 100 years to be diverted as a result.

            Have you done moral harm to the poor guy? Perhaps. Is it sufficiently grievous as to allow any one person to veto such a project? No.

            Now, the project itself may not be morally justified. The interstate may be unnecessary, wasteful, etc. But in that case, the hold out is only one victim among many. The problem isn’t the eminent domain, the problem is wasting vast sums of money.

        2. 1) Building a highway.

          2) Paying fair market value.

  3. I think we’re overestimating voters here, nothing but a sign of weakness hurts Trump.

    1. Lol, you mean a refusal to nuke U.S. citizens/United States ?

      1. Hey, do you really want a president who will take any options off the table when it comes to protecting us from the terrrrrrists?

  4. Prediction: no one cares.

    1. We have a winner. In fact, I’d wager a fair amount that most voters do not even know what that term means. Just put someone on a busy sidewalk and start stopping and asking pedestrians what it means. How many will answer correctly, 1 of 10? 1 of 100? Or will it be less than that.

      1. “Imminent Lo Mein? Does that mean lunch is ready?”

        1. It’s made from commie noodles!

          1. And served with a little red book.

        2. “No, you idiot, its “Eminent Lo Mein”. Its awesome, but it won’t be ready for an hour.”

        3. I love M&M Lo Mein, it’s so much better than General Lindt’s Chicken

          1. Eminem Lo Mein? Now that keeps getting a bad rap…

      2. I think more people will know it than that. If you’ve got a busy sidewalk then you must be in a place with a decent population density. Eminent domain gets used often enough that I think a lot of people in cities and suburbs have at least heard about it. Out in the rural areas it might be more obscure…

  5. No, they won’t care. They will only care about illegal immigrants, they-took-our-jobs, and fuck-political-correctness.

  6. “Will Trump’s support for eminent domain abuse hurt him in today’s Iowa caucus?”

    I would think eminent domain abuse is roughly 179th on most Iowans’ list of the most important issues, right after sushi subsidies.

    1. Is sushi covered by SNAP?

  7. Will Trump’s support of anything he’s ever said or done affect his performance in Iowa?

    1. You have no proof that Trump supports anything he’s said or done.

      1. Which is exactly why he’d be perfect for the job!

    2. Didn’t you read NutraSweet’s latest Trump Chronicles (also known as the Ribald Tales of the Hat and the Hair)? The Donald has a Cialis pump. Nothing is going to affect his performance.

      Sometimes you really are a disappointment, Hugh. Sigh.

      1. Your disappointment is more the product of your expectations than my failure to live up to them, Epi.

        1. Now I’m disappointed in myself! You’re contagious!

          1. Your collegial interchanges disappoint *me*!

            Hit and run is supposed to be continuous news, views and abuse, you scrofulous cabbage-wearing morris dancing rejects!

            1. Well, I abused your mom last night. Does that count?

              1. No, it doesn’t. It’s not abuse when you show up drunk and messily attempt to rape a rosebush before passing out in the driveway. It’s just sad.

                1. The open sores on his face aren’t from a rosebush. I assure you that they’re highly contagious.

  8. “Will Trump’s support for eminent domain abuse hurt him in today’s Iowa caucus? ”

    Do they even know about it?

      1. Most voters are not well informed. That’s an understatement. They’re not very smart. I blame public education. And women. Ok, I mostly blame women. Ok, I admit it, I entirely blame women.

        1. No balls,that’s the problem.

  9. Trump: “Citizens: I promise to force everyone in America to sell me their homes at government determined rates. In exchange, I promise to kill/deport everyone who is darker than “ochre” on the color wheel.”

    Citizens: “Finally, someone who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is and says what I’ve been thinking!”

    1. Sorry, Jimbo, but the Trumpets don’t know what “ochre” is.

      1. Yes, they do. It’s that green vine that grows everywhere like a goddamn weed.

        1. Nah, ochre is a veggie people in the South eat.

    2. “That is our human color wheel. It goes from Seal…to Seal’s teeth.”

  10. If more than three people in Iowa knew what the hell eminem damane was or gave a crap about some rapper named Key-Lo, it would help. When Trump gets away with going around repeating that Obama makes bad deals like the TPP deal he made with China, there’s not much hope.

    (Don’t worry – I’m fairly certain the same news sources uncritically giving you the straight, unbiased facts of what Donald said will dig out their investigative reporter hats right after Trump wins the GOP nomination and start pointing out just how full of crap Trump is. Just like they uncritically pointed out what a nice, moderate Republican Romney was and what a bi-partisan maverick McCain was during the primaries only to discover after they won the nomination what a right-wing extremist fascist rabid-dog Nazi they both were.)

  11. Eminent domain is just a way to get rid of Mexican landscapers without actually building a wall. You see, when Trump eminent domains your property, he’ll fire all the Mexican landscapers and send them back to Mexico. Well, really he won’t but he said he would. Politicians never do what they say, so the voters realize that and just look for the candidate with the best one line phrase. Hope and Change is so passe, we need Make America Great Again!

  12. I have to admit. I really just don’t get it. For years, angry Republican voters have been bitching about how they hate the GOP Establishment because it’s willing to sell out Republican principles to the Democrats. And who the fuck do they back? The worst sort of crony capitalist who supported Planned Parenthood, traded in wives more often than his car, who supported gun control until this election cycle, advocated for socialized medicine, pushes protectionism, and is calling to “tax the rich”. Compared to this guy John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are principled libertarian conservatives.


      1. The whole “GET YOUR GOVERNMENT HANDS OFF MY MEDICARE!!!!!” thing only goes so far. First of all, it was one idiot with a sign. You really want to judge political movements by the signs of their stupidest members? Guarantee, I can find one that will make libertarians look pretty damned stupid. Also, I can write that off as stupidity. It’s been sold to the public from day one as an insurance policy. Sure, you and I know it isn’t but I can understand people being a little more stupid than that.

        But, the Trump thing goes beyond that. It’s absolutely batshit insane. How can you be an evangelical and vote for a guy like Donald Trump? The guy trades in wives more often than cars and talks sexually about his daughter. Then there’s the whole support for Planned Parenthood thing. How can someone who claims to be a defense conservative take this guy in any way credibly? He’s all but said “Nuke their ass and take their gas!”. That’s an insane caricature of conservative geostrategy.

        That’s the thing. I may not agree with the evangelicals. But, I can understand why they would back a guy like Huckabee or Santorum. I may not agree with the defense conservatives, but I can understand why they’d want a guy like Christie or Rubio. I may not agree with the GOP Establishment. But, I can understand why they’d go with Bush.

        Trump just doesn’t make any sense.

        1. People are being collectivized. I blame women.

        2. “How can you be an evangelical and vote for a guy like Donald Trump?”

          Because voting for GOPe guys ended up with gay marriage, planned parenthood being fully funded even after videos of baby part selling came out, and Christians being fine heavily for not baking cakes.

          Evangelicals understand that Donald is pandering. He’s obvious about it. Which is maybe why they like him.

          They probably view his anti-PC campaign as very much helping allow them to be anti-gay marriage, etc. Otherwise these views become verboten in society.

          Note: I am not evangelical or a Trump supporter.

          1. Because voting for GOPe guys ended up with gay marriage, planned parenthood being fully funded even after videos of baby part selling came out, and Christians being fine heavily for not baking cakes.

            So, their answer is to go with a guy who is even more brazenly contemptuous of their beliefs?! Seriously, do you think Donald Trump would bat an eye over some hick in Iowa getting his business shut down because he wouldn’t bake a gay wedding cake? Hell, he’d probably applaud it. And Planned Parenthood? Trump is a supporter. He’s donated to them personally.

            1. Trump’s anti-PC. Maybe they are hoping that pulls the Overton window?

              Honestly, I just hope they eventually figure out that the culture and the progressives are against them, so libertarian politics is their best bet for survival.

              I suppose evangelicals could also lean nativist or anti-trade, but I’d assume Iowa exports a lot.

            2. They are looking for a strongman who will protect them against the depredations of the left.

              1. They are looking for a strongman who will protect them against the depredations of the left.

                What could go wrong?

            3. So, their answer is to go with a guy who is even more brazenly contemptuous of their beliefs?!

              Given a choice between:

              (1) A guy who is contemptuous of my beliefs and is open about it, and

              (2) A guy who is contemptuous about my beliefs, lies about it, and thinks I’m a big enough idiot to fall for his lies,

              why wouldn’t I choose (1)?

        3. In my personal interactions with Trump supporters, there is a consistent knee-jerk emotional response. I don’t know if that goes for a majority of them, but FYTW is as much sense of this phenomenon as I can make.

          1. The Right finally has its Obama.

    2. The support for Trump is mostly emotional in nature. It doesn’t have to make sense, because it wasn’t sensible in origin. That the competition is an avowed socialist and a traitorous crook doesn’t hurt his cause.

      1. People are angry and their judgement on how to channel is like giving a blindfolded person a shotgun and telling them to exact their revenge on any nearby objects.

      2. It is entirely emotional…. I asked the Nasa engineer who is the big Trump supporter in my social circle why he supported the guy, and he said “he upsets the right people”. Full stop.

        He upsets the right people. You can’t argue against that rationale. It’s a sort of madness that will only be purged by the cleansing fire of personal experience.

        1. It’s the same as partisanship: it’s not about who you’re for, it’s about who you’re against. And that is an insanely fucked up way to assign your priorities.

        2. Your NASA friend basically said exactly what my own dad did to me and my brother the other day. There aren’t enough desks in this world for me to smash my face through.

        3. That argument has also been made time and time again in these very fora.

        4. It’s a sort of madness that will only be purged by the cleansing fire of personal experience.

          How old is your NASA engineer? Shouldn’t he have enough personal experience to have already learned this lesson? Did he just start reading the news last year? If you’re over the age of 25 and willing to support Donald Trump I don’t think any amount of personal experience will purge that madness.

        5. Does it even matter, if there isn’t a good alternative? Besides which, humans are hard-wired to punish selfish teammates (in this case ‘the establishment”), even at their own expense. Game theory suggests that, depending on the circumstances, it can be a viable long-term strategy.

      3. I was thinking about Dean’s comment the other day that Trump is a social nationalist and Sanders is a national socialist, and I think that’s a great way to put it.

        Basically, Sanders wants Americans to pay more money to the government in the form of taxation so that government can grant benefits. Trump wants Americans to pay more money to American manufacturers and workers in the form of higher cost of goods through tariffs and less workplace competition so that those manufacturers will pay higher wages and employees receive higher wages.

        Either way, Americans are paying more for the benefit of select groups. Sanders wants his stormtroopers in the IRS, while Trump wants them in customs and immigration. At least Sanders isn’t putting on the facade of independence from government.

    3. Trump supporters may not come from the base of the Republicans, but are instead independents.

      He has tapped the anti-free traders, nativists, and also those who just want immigration law enforced.*

      These really aren’t the GOP base. They could have voted for a Jim Webb, for example.

      Also, a lot of so-cons are embracing Trump because they feel the establishment lies to them and doesn’t deliver, so why not go with a new guy, even if he lies just as much.

      *People who believe in 1 or all 3 of these are not necessarily racist or xenophobes, but they’re in there as well.

    4. I don’t think they care what he is, so much as that his election proves that the establishment doesn’t have them over a barrel. That is, the populists believe that the establishment doesn’t give a crap what they think, because the establishment knows that when push comes to shove, they’ll always vote for a Jeb or Romney that walks the walk on establishment priorities, but sort of half-assedly talks the talk on populist priorities. In other words, their votes are taken for granted and therefore they have all the clout that black people do with Democrats.

      They don’t give a shit about whether Trump can win, or even whether he will be better than Hillary. The point is to prove to the establishment that if they don’t actually act on populist priorities along with establishment ones, the establishment will be cut off from power altogether. It’s no loss to the populists, since in their minds they weren’t going to get anything from winning anyway. In other words, support for Trump is really about 2020, not 2016.

    5. In the last few days Trump has been accusing Cruz of being willing to let people die in the streets.

      “We have to take care of people, but it’s not single payer, but we can’t let people die.”

  13. Welcome to Iowa,sorry about that.

    1. Don’t worry, just passing through/over.

  14. Will Trump’s Support for Eminent Domain Abuse Hurt Him in Today’s Iowa Caucus?

    El Trumpo and Bernie already showed that the average voter cares nothing about esoteric issues like eminent domain or the Federal Reserve’s manipulation of the money supply. Once El Trumpo said that more than half of Mexican immigrants were rapists and drug dealers, the mindless seals started to clap and howl. Once Bernie started to offer free shit, his trained seals started to clap and howl the same. One offers meaningless slogans and the other offers bribes. Both carry more than half the potential voting population of the US. That’s democracy in action.

    1. Nativists haven’t had much to vote for in a long time.

      That Mexicans are rapists line is like catnip to them. A real signal.

      1. Also, its not just nativists, per se.

        Richard Epstein explained it one word: inclusiveness.

        Right now, institutions are pushing inclusiveness, which means more non-white people.

        If you do the math that means less white people. If you’re white “diversity” is not such a pleasant word.

        A tiny example: my company sells products to large fortune 500 firms. Every single year they ask us to fill us out some paperwork and ask if we are women-owned or minority-owned.

        I’ve also had firms who contact us asking for the exact items our major customer buys. These firms are not competitors, but instead are simple “women-owned” firms who attempt to grab business on that basis.

        Yes, I could make my wife who is a minority and a woman the owner, and gain some advantage, but it just irks me to see these questions.

        This stuff starts to add up. I have Chinese competitors who now sell directly to the USA market who avoid a ton of US rules, and get preferential shipping costs from the USPS, and on the other side I have women and minority businesses sniping at me, too – not based on product, price, quality, but on ethnicity and gender.

        It sure seems like the power structure is set up to remove me from business.

        Then you realize you could have made more money by being a state employee, and retired at age 57.

        Gee, I wonder why there’s a backlash?

        1. Because we’ve gone beyond inclusiveness now and are into the revenge phase. America is the most inclusive nation on earth, and has been for a while.

          The fucking left just can’t ever take “yes” for an answer and be satisfied with all their victories.

  15. No.

    Next question.

  16. Certainly some people in Iowa care about ED (no, not that ED). The Bakken pipeline is planned to cut a diagonal across the sate from NW to SE (close to the longest straight line you could draw through Iowa). There’s a semi trailer along I-35 between Ames and Des Moines with “STOP EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE” written on the side in very large letters. People know about it (especially, I’m guessing, your typical caucus-goer) and some care quite a bit.

  17. Unfortunately most people who hate Trump don’t care about eminent domain abuse either

  18. Will Trump’s Support for Eminent Domain Abuse Hurt Him in Today’s Iowa Caucus?

    No. As long as he promises to keep the ethanol subsidies flowing, he could rape a baby on live TV and his supporters wouldn’t give a shit. Just like Obama.

  19. I’d love to see an anti-Trump ad featuring Vera Coking. “That bastard tried to steal my home” would make a great slogan.


  20. Trump sees the world as a giant Profit & Loss statement. There’s no room for him to quantify individual rights.

  21. To paraphrase a popular meme: It’s Not Communism When We Practice It.

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