Eminent Domain

My New "Washington Post" Op Ed on Eminent Domain and the Border Wall

The op ed describes the extensive harm likely to be caused by condemning the large amounts of private property that would need to be seized to build the wall.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

The Washington Post just published my new op ed on eminent domain and President Donald Trump's proposed border wall. Here is an excerpt:

In his speech on Saturday, President Trump reiterated his determination to build his border wall. Much of the debate over this issue focuses on whether Trump can get the funding he wants.

But even if congressional Democrats agree to give him the funds in exchange for concessions on other immigration issues, that would be only the beginning of the drama over the wall. Trump cannot acquire the land he needs without forcibly displacing large numbers of property owners by using eminent domain. That inevitably threatens the property rights of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans.

Less than one-third of the needed land is currently owned by the federal government. The rest — as much as 1,300 miles — is held by private owners, Native American tribes and state governments, many of whom are unlikely to sell voluntarily. Even if the wall does not cover the full 2,000 miles because it excludes some areas, such as those that have "natural" barriers, many property owners will have to be displaced….

To get that land, the government would have to resort to eminent domain: a power that allows the state to seize property from unwilling owners. The result would be one of the largest federal condemnations in modern U.S. history. In Texas alone, there are some 4,900 parcels of privately owned land within 500 feet of the probable route of the wall. In Arizona, some 62 miles of the route is owned by the Tohono O'odham Nation, which opposes the wall because it would damage the tribe's land and impede ties with members across the border. No one knows exactly how many homes, businesses and tribal properties would have to be condemned. But it is likely that thousands of people would suffer….

In 2005, the Supreme Court generated widespread outrage when it ruled in Kelo v. City of New London that the government could condemn homes to promote private "economic development." The project fell through, and today the site of Susette Kelo's house is used only by feral cats. Trump is a long-standing defender of Kelo, in large part because he himself has a history of benefiting from eminent domain abuse, including the notorious 1998 condemnation of elderly widow Vera Coking's home to build a parking lot for one of his casinos.

As legal scholar Gerald S. Dickinson notes, "The Great Wall of Trump could leave hundreds of Cokings and Kelos at risk of losing their property" — vastly more than in Kelo. They would lose their land to build a structure that is not justified by any genuine security crisis, is likely to cost more than $20 billion in taxpayer money and probably would not significantly reduce undocumented immigration. Even seizing land for feral cats seems a better deal than that.

In this post, and an op ed in the New York Daily News, I discussed the issues raised by the possibility of Trump using emergency powers to build the wall. He does not seem to be pursuing that option, for now. But it could potentially resurface if Congress continues to deny him funding for the wall.

NEXT: Trump's Dreamer-for-Wall Proposal Isn't a Good Faith Deal

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  1. Eminent domain takings for a border wall and Kelo have virtually NOTHING in common.

    1. Other than both being abusive theft by an over-weening government for speculative projects of dubious worth? I agree. One turned into nothing, given time; the other will but has not yet.

    2. Right. Whether you think it’s a good or a bad idea, the constitutional issue in Kelo was that the land wasn’t being taken for public use. It was just being seized from one private owner, and given to another.

      The wall, by contrast, is as ‘public use’ as it gets.

      Sure, any use of eminent domain violates natural rights. But you can’t even HAVE a government without violating natural rights. Eminent domain doesn’t violate constitutional rights in this case.

      The comparison to Kelo is invalid, and Ilya knows it.

      1. Or maybe you guys should read the entire paragraph.

        “Trump is a long-standing defender of Kelo, in large part because he himself has a history of benefiting from eminent domain abuse, including the notorious 1998 condemnation of elderly widow Vera Coking’s home to build a parking lot for one of his casinos.”

        Gee. Wow. A valid purpose for bringing up Kelo!

        1. They didn’t read it, because it would go against their religion to see anything critical of Trump.

          1. Trump loved eminent domain as a businessman seeking to build a parking garage for his casino. True and fair statement. I disagree with him there. In my view, Kelo and Midkiff were poorly reasoned and wrongly decided.

            Using eminent domain for the wall could not be more different than Kelo or Midkiff. We’ve used eminent domain to build postal roads, military fortifications, interstate highways, national parks, cemeteries, etc. Trump is neither the boogeyman portrayed by the triggered left, nor the unblemished lamb of the right. Taking property to build a defense structure does not by itself violate the constitutional rights of property owners.

        2. That quote simply emphasizes the gratuitous nature of citing Kelo. So Trump as a business man took advantage of the Supreme Court’s over-expansive view of the Fifth Amendment. So what? If you allow something (taking land for private purposes), then someone will take advantage of it.

          That has nothing to do with whether a taking for the purpose of building a publicly owned facility, to be financed by the public is allowed by the Fifth Amendment. It clearly is. Taking property for the proposed border wall is no different than taking property to build a public road, a public library or a military facility. All are clearly within the Fifth Amendment.

          1. For a lawyer, you don’t connect dots very well.

            The quote emphasizes how Trump has been willing to take the outrageous Kelo ruling, and ensure that he has benefited from it personally. As he is currently the President, he would have the ability to use the same system he’s already show willingness to abuse, in order to claim land for his idiotic border wall.

            Do you get it now?

          2. I would hope that a lawyer could connect dots better than you’ve managed.

            Trump has shown a willingness to abuse the Kelo ruling for his own personal benefit. He’s the President. He now has the ability to abuse the same ruling to take land for his idiotic border wall.

            His past abuses of Kelo are clearly relevant in this context.

            Do you get it now?

            1. I’m afraid you’re the one who doesn’t get it, Jason. There is no abuse of eminent domain required to take land for a border wall. That is exactly the purpose of eminent domain.

              And while Kelo is immaterial in this case, I don’t think DJT “abused” Kelo in any way.

              1. ” There is no abuse of eminent domain required to take land for a border wall.”

                You’ve put your conclusion in among your premises.

                Whether or not there is an abuse of eminent domain to take land for a border wall depends on whether there is a statute in place that authorizes it, and an appropriation in place to cover the taking.

    3. +100 ThePublius

      1. and Brett

  2. I can’t think of a better use of eminent domain than to build a wall to keep semi-retarded mestizo parasites out of America.

    1. Now that you’ve gotten in, shut the doors!

  3. I’ll be honest, I didn’t read. I already know what it says – Trump bad, open borders good. Taxpayers, pls bend over.

    1. It’s Trump, not the Democrats, asking the taxpayers to fork over $5.7 billion for a useless vanity project.

      1. If it were useless, they wouldn’t mind wasting the money. It’s a trivial amount on the scale of the federal budget, and stupider things get more funding.

        They object because it might work.

        1. I think they actually object because of the symbolism that America doesn’t believe that every Latin American is entitled to U.S. citizenship.

        2. That’s the most illogical ‘argument’ I’ve read so far this calendar year. Congratulations.

        3. It’s mostly because they don’t like Americans very much. Some other people have other reasons, but contempt for Americans is a large part of the collective motivation on the anti-wall side.

          1. Always useful to put secret thoughts into the other side’s head.

            1. The people who want to import an unlimited number of Central Americans stand together with the people who say they can’t wait for old white Americans to die off. They tell us their thoughts.

              1. Not wanting a wall != wanting to import an unlimited number of central Americans.

                And most of the Dems in the party now are old and white, so I don’t know where you’re getting this from, other than your own fragility.

                1. What limit do you propose? No limit means unlimited.

                2. He’s getting it from the straw man he’s created, rather than what anyone actually says.

                  1. They could build a decent wall with all that straw.

          2. “Contempt for Americans?”

            What are you, one of those “real America” types?

            I see a lot of contempt on this site for Americans who hold liberal views, live in cities, are non-white, etc.

            Here’s a clue. You don’t get to define who is an American based on your prejudices and bigotry.

            1. They’re not real Americans. Very few of them have served in the military, they have contempt for our history, our traditions, our culture, our founding, our constitution, and everything else.

              1. Congratulations on pointing out the many ways Trump is not real American. He did not serve in the military. And worse yet, he was a draft dodger – using a bogus claim of bone spurs to obtain a medical deferment. He knows little history and lacks even a high school level understanding of the constitution.

                And talk about American culture, he can’t even spell ‘hamburger’.

                1. He puts ketchup on his steaks and eats pizza with a fork.

          3. “Some other people have other reasons, but contempt for Americans is a large part of the collective motivation on the anti-wall side.”

            Some other people have other reasons, but desire to have homosexual relations with domesticated animals is a large part of the motivation of the pro-wall side.

            1. ^Triggered^

        4. “If it were useless, they wouldn’t mind wasting the money.”

          Unless, say, there was something ELSE that they’d prefer to spend the money on. Do Democrats like to spend taxpayer money less than Republicans? No? They just prefer to spend it on different things? OK, then.

          1. Right, so it’s a lie that it’s about the money. The same Democrats whining about $5.7 billion for a border wall have no issue spending $100 billion on Obamaphones, Medicaid, and EBT cards for Shaniqua.

      2. LOL, Democrats are concerned about wasting money on a useless vanity project.

  4. The fact that the Washington Post published Prof. Somin’s editorial tells me all I need to know about it.

    1. What does it say to you about Prof. Volokh’s writings that the Washington Post published them for years?

      1. That the Volokh Conspiracy was grandfathered in before the Post went from news to propaganda in the Bezos era.

        1. The WaPo has been a propaganda outlet for decades.

          1. Hehe, you guys gotta get together and get your story straight, it seems!

            1. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

              1. It’s OK, those guys are foolish hobgoblins, anyway.

              2. It’s OK, those guys are foolish hobgoblins, anyway.

  5. I find it amazing that Prof. Somin can’t help himself to stay within his expertise, i.e. the law. His need to express his opinions, without any proof or justification, leaves the reader with the feeling that the legal discussion is just a pretext and not the goal. In fact, whenever Prof. Somin steps into politics, he tends to blow himself up and effectively destroys his legal arguments. Stick to the law, Prof. Somin. Leave politics to the pundits.

    1. What are your qualifications to judge those legal arguments, Henry C?

      An Ave Maria or Hillsdale correspondence course?

      The courtroom experience associated with a couple of DUIs?

      Does Jesus whisper legal insights to you?

      Is one of the new Trump budget hotels in Mississippi open, and you stayed there last night?

    2. Volokh is a pundit.

      Like most Lefty legal types, his law is tainted by FEELZ and the agenda to end what makes America great- the US Constitution.

      1. Yes, you seem to be emotionally detached and rational.

      2. Tell us again how scared you feel because migrant workers cross the border to work illegally in fields and factories.

  6. Why would they be any different than any other person who loses money when Govt takes their land? I know a few it has happened to, i bet if you took a survey you would find they thought they got taken.

  7. I don’t think anyone is fooled by you guys pretending to care about border property.

    1. Ben,
      I think Ilya’s concern about private property ownership (re eminent domain) goes back years and years and years, and WAY pre-dates Prez Donald Trump. If you are able to search back at the old VC sites, you will see scores of his posts on this subject, along with literally hundreds–if not thousands–of VC comments from us, expressing support for the rights of private property owners and almost universally condemning Kelo. So, your comment is a bit stupid…well, “uninformed” might be a more charitable description.

      If your actual point was, “There are a ton of people who care a whole lot about private property, but not particularly about that it happens to be located along our southern border.”, then . . . sure, that is certainly correct. But that seems to weaken your criticism, not strengthen it, right? Ilya has been about as intellectually consistent on this issue as any VC poster (along with Eugene Volokh’s pro-free-speech posts, I guess.).

      1. Perhaps I’m wrong then. Perhaps some people are fooled.

        1. I’m guessing you’re a Trumper.

          No other class of human being is dumb enough to double-down on their theory when irrefutable evidence is thrown in their face about how wrong they are.

          1. Name-calling? Check.
            Orange man bad? Check.

            A typical conversations with a liberal.

            1. I’m sorry that you’re unhappy with fitting the criteria of a Trumper.

              Maybe when your argument is completely proven invalid, you shouldn’t double-down like a fool and insist you’re still somehow right.

  8. I’m not sure where all the hot gas that the wall won’t work is coming from. Theres a reason why walls keep appearing over and over again in history across multiple cultures isolated from each other and its not because they are completely useless. Also nobody is seriously claiming that it will be 100% perfect or a sizable chunk of illicit traffic still won’t get through. Look at all the far more expensive far more useless boondoggles Dems have funded without question yet when you ask for this measly sum its as if Trump is trying to build the Death Star.

    1. It’s just a talking point.

      Everyone knows walls work. No one thinks they work perfectly.

      When they say it won’t work, it’s just playing a role. No one thinks Daniel Radcliffe is a real wizard either. You’re supposed to play along.

      1. Ah, your thing is you know all the liberals are lying because of how much you think they are wrong.

        Well, at least you’re in good company!

        1. Daniel Radcliffe isn’t “lying” when he says he’s a wizard. It’s part of the performance.

          Saying walls don’t work is similar: people are repeating words on a script or from verbal tradition. They know walls work. Everyone knows they do. Nevertheless, they aspire to perform a role, and that role involves speaking the proper words.

          They are sincere in their wish that the words matched the facts. The wish and the performance are important to them emotionally and socially. That’s why you’re supposed to play along.

          Facts get ignored, and eventually turn into consequences. The performers remain comfortable because the consequences mostly afflict others. So those consequences can also be ignored. You’re supposed to continue playing along, always.

          1. Your telepathy is all the more impressive as it becomes clear you’ve never talked to a liberal.

            ‘I think walls work, therefore anyone who says they don’t isn’t actually thinking.’

            You get into it below about the efficacy of walls. You’ve currently fallen back on walls being morally superior to paying to improve other countries. Which I actually think may be true (nobless oblige is some colonialist BS), but shows how opinion-based your ‘facts’ truly are.

            1. Yeah, I don’t think stealing money from taxpayers for the private gain of individual citizens of foreign countries is defensible. If people wish to contribute to educate other countries’ children, they should voluntarily make a donation of their own money. But stealing money from us for this purpose is clearly wrong.

              National defense is clearly morally correct in general. It goes wrong in specific cases. You could argue this is one. Or you could argue it isn’t.

              So it’s an arguable question versus something that’s categorically wrong. Not much of a contest.

              As for talking to a liberal, mostly those conversations involve the liberals name-calling people. Orange man bad. You hear it once, you’ve heard it 1000 times. Beyond that they like storytelling and will deny reality when it interferes with the story they want to believe. Every “how do you solve this problem” question leads to spending money other people earned. And all the time they talk, you can see the only thing they truly value is their own smug sense of themselves. I rarely see anything else from them.

              1. Your argument has moved from ‘walls work. It’s a fact!’ to a much more complicated policy argument about cost-benefits and moral systems and taxation as theft and indeed what a wall is effective at.

                It is by conflating the two that you are able to argue that Dems are denying reality, and thus can’t be reasoning creatures.

                That you cite Orange Man Bad as liberal argumentation does not do a lot for your claim that you’ve really looked into the liberal mind.

                1. Walls make it harder to get from one side to the other. That’s their purpose. They are effective at increasing the difficulty of crossing them.

                  Increasing the difficulty of a thing decreases the likelihood of success at accomplishing that thing. A lower likelihood of success means fewer people who try will succeed.

                  Faced with a smaller likelihood of success and greater exertion in the attempt, fewer people will attempt to cross. People respond to incentives.

                  Hence, a wall on a border decreases the number of illegal entrants versus the number who would attempt and succeed without the wall.

                  Hope that’s understandable to you. I know some people can’t follow even the simplest arguments. I believe you can do it though.

                  1. Faced with a smaller likelihood of success and greater exertion in the attempt, fewer people will attempt to cross.
                    I do not think this is true. People are not economic machines, especially not desperate people or people trying to better their family’s chances.

                    You are also notably ignoring costs to the wall beyond the initial development. Not even just the cost to staff, but the cost in what it would mean for America’s culture to turn from ‘huddled masses, yearning to breath free’ to ‘you get a wall.’

                    You keep moving around your scope. A wall is a fine means to an end, but you’re baking a lot more assumptions in there, and then pretending you’re making a factual argument when you’re making a policy one.

                    If you want a statement that’s more performance than truth, try ‘taxation is theft.’ Turns out, it’s just taxation you don’t like!

                    1. If they were desperate, they could stay in Mexico. Mexico has made it clear that they are welcome to stay. There are jobs in Mexico for people willing to go where the work is and able-bodied enough to circumvent a wall. It’s not desperation that leads them to turn down Mexico’s welcome.

                    2. If they were desperate, they could stay in Mexico.
                      Yes, Mexico is just like the US to a desperate family. Nice fair-weather exceptionalism there, chief.

                      It’s not desperation that leads them to turn down Mexico’s welcome.
                      Yeah, those greedy illegals working for under minimum wage and living in subsistence conditions convicts won’t take don’t seem desperate at all.

                      Your current argument is that illegals are making an economic decision, and that the wall raises the cost of that decision and is thus worth it? Yeah, it’s the other side that has trouble with facts.

                    3. You have a high esteem for the judgement of convicts in this story. It’s really emotional too. Maybe you could cast Meryl Streep as one of the convicts, just out of prison, with no options. Can I get a writing credit?

                      Why wouldn’t a convict, just out of prison on parole, want to take an illegal, off-the-books, below minimum wage job? Can anyone guess …?

                      Nope. It’s because Orange Man Bad.

                    4. I’m not arguing about good judgment or bad, just that the wall isn’t a good disincentive for such people.

                      That you pivot into a full-on strawman of my argument, and that of the other side, shows how serious you’re taking the facts, versus your own self-validation.

                    5. What if there were a way to understand events without spining melodramatic stories?

                    6. But I’m not spinning a story at all, am I? No events, no names, no descriptions.
                      I used the word desperate to show how they are not making the economic decisions you require for your wall to work. Substance wages is again an example of their decisions not being short-term economic.

                      I was making an argument. that is all it takes to set you off assuming I’m being emotionally manipulative, you are being hypersensitive, and it’s no wonder you have some trouble with taking into account behavioral economics.

                    7. But I’m not spinning a story at all, am I? No events, no names, no descriptions.
                      I used the word desperate to show how they are not making the economic decisions you require for your wall to work. Substance wages is again an example of their decisions not being short-term economic.

                      I was making an argument. If that is all it takes to set you off assuming I’m being emotionally manipulative, you are being hypersensitive, and it’s no wonder you have some trouble with taking into account behavioral economics.

                    8. Who is the person in the story making below minimum wage at a job a convict wouldn’t take? That’s a story, not an argument.

                      Does that person exist? If so, you’re telling us that person’s story. If not, you made up a story. Either way, it’s a story.

                      And you used it to make the (silly) point that no one would weigh the pros and cons of crossing the border. So increasing the cons by making it harder would never influence anyone’s decision.

                      Maybe you think more people will come here as the journey gets harder and the chance of success gets smaller? That’s not a thought process a rational person could follow.

                    9. it was a pretty famous story.

                      I do like how you’re maximizing my argument to make it easier to argue against. I’m not saying raising the cost has zero effect, merely a diminished one. Which is all it takes to explode your logic train of wall as panacea.

                    10. I said it would “decrease” illegal entrants versus if there were no wall. That’s all. The words are right there if you want to go look at them.

                      You chose to disagree with that, and the only alternatives to a decrease are an increase or exactly the same number. Then you told a story, because drama seemingly always drives notions with no basis in reality.

              2. Beyond that they like storytelling and will deny reality when it interferes with the story they want to believe.

                A right-winger complaining about liberals ‘denying reality’ and ‘storytelling,’ during the era in which Republicans and conservatives are all-in for superstition and birtherism, exhibits a striking lack of self-awareness.

                And a healthy helping of stupidity.

                Carry on, clingers. So far as intolerance, fairy tales, and backwardness can carry anyone, that is.

          2. Saying walls don’t work is similar: people are repeating words on a script or from verbal tradition.

            The technical term is you are instantiation units actuating your respective memeplex’s defense mechanisms.

            Ultimately both sides are about securing votes, which spreads their memeplex to additional instantiation units by force because they won an election and now have that golden power which goes beyond mere persuasion.

            The problem is the power.

            1. Ugh. Not all sociology can be broken down like engineering.

              Less an issue with you, Krayt, and more with that style of scholarship.

            2. It’s 1000 times more understandable the way I said it. And less creepy.

    2. Among other reasons, if it actually would work there would be some decent arguments i its favor, instead of the stupid lies Trump and Sarah Sanders keep telling about all the terrorists and heroin it would stop.

    3. If there were decent arguments for the wall, they wouldn’t keep pretending that anyone was actually saying ‘walls don’t work.’

      1. Nancy Pelosi says that the wall is immoral and ineffective. Is she anyone?

        1. She isn’t anyone saying ‘walls don’t work.’

          1. That’s always the tactic: say “walls don’t work” while simultaneously saying “no one is saying walls don’t work”.

            Every issue is like that. “No one is going to take your guns away” at the same time laws are being passed to force you to surrender your guns or be arrested for a felony in Boulder, and in Virginia, and other places.

            1. That’s it exactly except for the way nobody said ‘walls don’t work,’ like the way Obama was coming for your guns by never coming for your guns.

              1. Obama believed civilians shouldn’t have firearms, and was possibly the most anti-gun president in history. The reason he didn’t come for our guns, was because we, as in the voters, wouldn’t let him. That still didn’t stop him from unconstitutional gun control.

                Your point is silly. Imagine if I said, “no Republican wants to take your abortion” when many of them clearly want to end abortion but are likewise prevented from doing so by voters.

                1. The reason he didn’t come for our guns, was because we, as in the voters, wouldn’t let him. That still didn’t stop him from unconstitutional gun control.

                  Love when something is so efficiently unfalsifiable. ‘To the extent it didn’t happen, it’s because of how awesome America is. But also it did happen.’

                  1. Politics doesn’t have to falsifiable like Popper’s formulation.
                    Obama answered a questionnaire stating he wanted a state law to ban handguns. While a lecturer at the University of Chicago, Barack Obama had a brief conversation with John Lott, whose story of the encounter is:
                    Indeed, the first time I introduced myself to him he said ‘Oh, you are the gun guy.’ I responded ‘Yes, I guess so.’ He simply responded that ‘I don’t believe that people should be able to own guns.’ When I said it might be fun to talk about the question sometime and about his support of the city of Chicago’s lawsuit against the gun makers, he simply grimaced and turned away, ending the conversation.
                    In his entire political career, Obama only ever voted 3 times for gun rights, the first was when he was a state senator, and it was for allowing retired cops to carry a concealed weapon (possibly because he was seeking the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police).
                    The second was for allowing for the sale of surplus pistols through the Civilian Marksmanship Prog. And it only happened because it was an amendment tacked onto a “must pass bill” that passed Congress with veto proof majority. Even though the law authorized the sale of the pistols, it is unsurprising that they were not put up
                    The third time was also as part of an omnibus spending bill, and in this case Obama reversed a decade-long ban on transporting firearms by Amtrak travelers.

                    1. Arguments do need to be falsifiable, else they become tautological conspiracy theories. Like what you’ve created here.

                      Anytime Obama or a Dem says something that doesn’t sound like he’s going to confiscate all guns, it’s a lie and not even worth discussing. Even the fact that nothing approaching a gun ban was even proposed in his eight year term is only proof of your righteous success in foiling his plans!

                      Despite your leaning HARD on confirmation bias, you still must admit your evidence is scanty, (Amtrak regs and surplus pistol sales? Come on, man) and yet apparently even that scantiness is proof of Obama’s perfidy!

                    2. Arguments don’t have to be falsifiable, especially in politics. You should know that.

                      You wouldn’t know substantial evidence if it bit you. Obama said he wanted to ban all guns at least once in private conversations which indicated his true feelings, and said as much in a written questionnaire for his state senate run in IL. And the only time he ever voted for any gun rights legislation when was when he was forced too, or when he wanted the FOP endorsement. Meanwhile, he expressed repeatedly the political lie that he didn’t want to take people guns while saying that gun control should be locally decided (there is no geographic clause in the 2nd Amendment) and expressed repeated animus against gun owners with his “bitter clingers” comment, and he tried to pass lots of gun control legislation in the wake of Sandy Hook….he felt so strongly about passing gun control he cried about it twice on national TV.

                      I made a claim, and I provides strong evidence, especially with this follow up comment noting all the things that you should have remembered and which should have been obvious as background material, 1,500 character limit and all that.

                      In sum, we have a person who doesn’t think people should own guns as expressed in private, in writing says he wanted to ban handguns, cries on national TV because he can’t pass gun control, and only votes for gun rights when forced too. So, So, tell me again how Obama wasn’t the most anti-gun president in modern history?

                    3. Arguments don’t have to be falsifiable, especially in politics. You should know that.

                      You wouldn’t know substantial evidence if it bit you. Obama said he wanted to ban all guns at least once in private conversations which indicated his true feelings, and said as much in a written questionnaire for his state senate run in IL. And the only time he ever voted for any gun rights legislation when was when he was forced too, or when he wanted the FOP endorsement. Meanwhile, he expressed repeatedly the political lie that he didn’t want to take people guns while saying that gun control should be locally decided (there is no geographic clause in the 2nd Amendment) and expressed repeated animus against gun owners with his “bitter clingers” comment, and he tried to pass lots of gun control legislation in the wake of Sandy Hook….he felt so strongly about passing gun control he cried about it twice on national TV.

                      I made a claim, and I provides strong evidence, especially with this follow up comment noting all the things that you should have remembered and which should have been obvious as background material, 1,500 character limit and all that.

                      In sum, we have a person who doesn’t think people should own guns as expressed in private, in writing says he wanted to ban handguns, cries on national TV because he can’t pass gun control, and only votes for gun rights when forced too. So, So, tell me again how Obama wasn’t the most anti-gun president in modern history?

                    4. There are about a million of these, but here are some select quotes from Democrats who “don’t want to take your guns”. To Sarcastro, it’s all a conspiracy, like reptilians or some such.

                      “Confiscation could be an option. Mandatory sale to the state could be an option. Permitting could be an option ? keep your gun but permit it.” Andrew Cuomo

                      “Banning guns addresses a fundamental right of all Americans to feel safe.” Senator Diane Feinstein, 1993

                      “I feel very strongly about it [the Brady Bill]… It’s not the end of the process by any means.” William J. Clinton, 8/11/93

                      “People who own guns are essentially a sickness in our souls who must be cleansed.” Colorado Senator (Majority Leader) John Morse. 2013

                      “I don’t know enough details to tell you how we would do it or how it would work, but certainly the Australia example is worth looking at,” Clinton said at a New Hampshire town hall on Friday. (“Australian example” is confiscation?)

                      Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama “‘We are nibbling around the edges instead of proposing bold, meaningful solutions,’ His suggestions included implementing a national gun registry, mandating ‘smart-gun technology,’ and rolling-out a buy-back program similar to Australia’s.” “Similar to Australia’s” IOW, manadatory confiscation with whatever the government decides is “just compensation.”

                      I could go on…open your eyes.

                    5. I mean, if you were trying to propagandize me, you could use tautologies, but your argument is invalid if it’s nothing but confirmation bias and discounting all countervailing examples. That’s not strong evidence, it’s notably weak evidence. Your calling it strong doesn’t change that.

                      I note from your examples that you, or whomever you copied from (no shame in that!), are even conflating wanting more gun control with wanting to ban guns. You also did this with Obama. Now you’ve added shifting goal posts to the mix.

                      Your argument is looking more and more like propaganda than logic or facts.

                    6. I didn’t copy anything (nice try at a dig), other than quotes, which bear quotation marks to let the reader know that I am citing someone else’s words.

                      Again, you wouldn’t know evidence if it bit you on the nose, you’re so blind to anything other than your preconceived notions, you call it propaganda. That’s not just sad, that pathetic.

                      I didn’t move the goalposts, you might look back at your coment, because *you* referenced democrats as a whole wanting to take people’s guns, whereas I was sticking to Obama. Once you, yes *you*, mentioned the wider circle, I provided more evidence that yes, they (prominent dems) do want to take our guns. Your debating skills need work, because all you do is call people out for logical fallacies that you either lure them into, or aren’t aware that you make yourself.

                      Use your innate ability to empathize with another human being. Imagine it was something you cared about and powerful politicians said, explicitly, “we want to take X away from you” but never were able to do so because of the filibuster in the Senate. Now just because they weren’t able too do so, doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t if they couldn’t.

                    7. I said no shame in copying because I meant it. I think it’s weirder to know that stuff off the top of your head tbh.

                      If you are arguing for a narrative that includes discarding anything that doesn’t fit with that narrative, that’s propaganda. That’s a content-free statement that happens to fit your talking points.

                      I’m very much against a gun ban, and tend to be skeptical of a lot of these gun regulations that restrict access. I believe there is an inherent right to self-defense, and that the ability to keep handguns is a vital part of that right. I also think registration and the like is absolutely fine. I recognize that I am to Obama’s right on this issue, but also that he’s not banning anything and that reasonable people can differ about where the line is drawn here.

                      And yet, when I’m on gun threads I find the majority of statements are about the secret thoughts of the liberal. And often that speculative paranoia bleeds over into other issues, so as better to hate the other side. It’s not a healthy position to take.

                    8. ANY set of initial facts can fit into your narrative to prove Dems want to ban guns. The lack of evidence is only more evidence they’re trying to hide it! That’s why it’s not an argument, but rather propaganda.

                      I’d empathize with you if your concerns were real. But as discussed above they are more about narrative than fact.
                      You are relying on conflated theses and cherry-picked anecdotes. So while I have sympathy for your emotional state, I cannot relate because it looks to me like you like this persecution narrative, and you work so hard to convince yourself of it.

                      Here is your original statement: Obama believed civilians shouldn’t have firearms, and was possibly the most anti-gun president in history. The reason he didn’t come for our guns, was because we, as in the voters, wouldn’t let him. That still didn’t stop him from unconstitutional gun control.
                      Even with the nonfalsifiable toolset you have you provided only three weak examples to show Obama wanted more gun regulations than we have now. That barely fits in with your last sentence (not counting your question-begging about the Constitution). It does not support your complete thesis. Not hardly.

    4. A border wall or fence doesn’t have to stop 100% of border crossers to be effective. Israel implemented an effective border fence that has diminished its suicide bomber infiltration to almost zero. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I…..ectiveness

      It is difficult to smuggle human beings compared to drugs, guns or contraband. They require food, water, air to breathe, have to relieve themselves periodically, can’t be kept in hidden compartments for days on end, weigh 130 lbs or more and take up a lot of space.

      There are many ways in which illegals get taxpayer support. As just one example, every illegal alien’s child is entitled to a public school education (even if the child is also illegal) and the average cost of this education is $11,000 per year (2014 figures). An illegal alien’s child enrolled in first grade will cost the taxpayer $132,000 to graduate from high school. This $132,000 of course becomes unavailable to educate the children of citizens and legal immigrants.

      So a $25 billion wall will pay for itself if it deters just 190,000 illegal aliens of child-bearing age from crossing the border illegally.

      1. Way better value for money to use it to educate them.

        1. Agreed. Build the wall and spend the savings to support schools in Honduras and El Salvador. You could educate 5 million children in those countries for the same money as 200,000 children in the US. And they would probably learn more.

          1. Skip the wall use all the funds from the intended geyser of billions and billions it would actually cost to build, maintain and monitor for education instead.

            1. Why should Americans be forced against our will to pay to educate citizens of other countries? Just wondering why you think it’s right.

              A wall is built once. People migrate millions upon millions, year after year, decade after decade. It’s not one group of children, it’s an unlimited number.

              1. It’s not that you should, it’s just a better use of the money.

                1. If you don’t think it’s right, then how is it “better”?

                  National defense is a legitimate reason to spend taxpayers’ money. Educating other countries’ children is not. (Is it?) How can an expenditure for an illegitimate reason be “better” than the same expenditure for a legitimate reason?

                  1. It’s legitimate if you decide it is, and would be a much better national defence investment than the wall.

                    1. So you don’t care about the right or wrong of forcing Americans to pay to educate other countries’ children?

                      But you want to make sure it happens by enabling those children to come here in unlimited numbers.

                    2. I just think it would be a better use of the money, with better outcomes for everyone. I’m sure the debate about the rights and wrongs of doing it would be absolutely delightful.

              2. Do you have mechanically-mounted goalposts or something? You can’t even keep your own crap straight.

                “Build the wall and spend the savings to support schools in Honduras and El Salvador. You could educate 5 million children in those countries for the same money as 200,000 children in the US.”

                “Why should Americans be forced against our will to pay to educate citizens of other countries?”

                Which is it? Which part of the Constitution don’t you understand?

                1. What goalposts? I was asking him whether he thought taxing people to pay for individual services for other countries’ citizens is right or not.

                  You seem like a very unhappy person who doesn’t like Americans very much.

                  1. Your self-contradiction is plain for everyone to see.

                    You suggest we support schools in foreign countries, then you complain that Americans shouldn’t be ‘forced’ to pay to educate citizens of other countries.

                    Again, I ask which part of the Constitution confuses you. However since you’re apparently confused by your own arguments, I’m just going to walk away rather than wasting further time with whatever you conjure up as an answer.

        2. Perhaps. But the quality of public education being what it is, they don’t get particularly well educated: Many wind up being functionally illiterate in both English, and Spanish…

    5. They don’t work all that well. Especially when they are not fully manned. Given the current situation what percentage of illegal immigrants do you expect it to stop, given that most people classified that way came in on airplanes and overstayed their visas. Also it wouldn’t effect the vast majority of people trying to claim asylum since they come to ports of entry. Is stopping 10,000 a year worth $20 billion?

  9. All they need to take is about 30-50 ft. from the border, except for periodic wider staging areas. I’m not a Trump fan but this argument is a painful stretch.

    1. Unless of course it was YOUR property.

      You can always tell who the sociopaths are, because they’re perfectly fine with other people having to suffer as long as it isn’t themselves.

  10. Landmines are much cheaper and much more effective. Landmines have kept the peace between the Koreas for nearly seven decades now.

    1. Funny how much killing civilians comes up on these border threads. Kinda like how racial eugenics keeps creeping back in.

      Wonder why the Dems don’t like to give in to that sides’ demands. Must be because they hate America!

      1. The muchachos down in Central America would only have to see a few of their cucaracha cousins getting their legs blown off to stop the problem for good.

      2. You’d think with your handle, you would be able to recognize it when you saw it.

        1. Ahh, sweet summer child. Sarcasm is always a possibility, but there’s a growing sincerely bloodthirsty streak in these ‘rule of law’ antimmigrant discussions.

    2. Or maybe an enormous invisible barrier completely covering the US, like in that TV series where an enormous invisible barrier completely covered a town. I think it was called The Town That Was Covered By An Enormous Invisible Barrier.

  11. 1. There’s a partially easy way around this. Allow the government to reimburse higher than market rate for some of the land.

    2. As many have said, the comparison between Kelo (condemnation of private land, and turning it over to private developers for private purposes) and this (Government taking of land, keeping it, and using it for public/security purposes) are very very different, and eminent domain exists for this reason. To argue against it here is to argue against eminent domain’s use for highways, utility lines, water mains and more. You may not agree with the reasoning for the wall, and may not like it, but it’s still a public use like an interstate highway.

    1. I don’t think Somin is arguing against the use of eminent domain in general. Just pointing out that for this wall a lot of property owners are going to have their property involuntarily purchased by the federal government. Something conservatives are ostensibly against.

    2. In this case, market rate can be determined as there are so many ‘sellers’ who will be in the market.
      Dutch auction is the method to nail down the value of the land based on what willing sellers determine to be the full opportunity cost of sale, relocation, repurchase somewhere else.

      1. There’s also the issue of whether President Trump has the statutory authority to take money from the treasury for just compensation for all the taking required. Has Congress given him that? And is the non-delegation doctrine still a thing with conservatives, or is it just another “core principle” discarded when a particular executive action is favored?

  12. The wall seems like a windfall for larger landowners, since they will be compensated in cash for the part of their land used for the wall and the remainder of their land will increase in value due to Federally-funded protection from trespassers…

    1. ‘Let me tell you how good this is for you!’

      1. He might be right but it’s the lack of freedom that is the problem.

        I don’t know but I will bet ‘Let me tell you how good this is for you!’ is acceptable to you for single payer arguments.

        Or “let’s not have the wall”, for that matter.

        1. In a Republic, we do indeed have a lot of ‘this is good for you.’

          I’m merely pointing out the inconsistency in that argument the right’s making.

          No one on the left is arguing the problem is lack of freedom. The arguments I see are that a wall is bad policy, that this goes against previous ED protocol (ie. bringing and action in court), and that the party of small government is being hilariously hypocritical.

          1. Not everyone who you group into the category “on the right” believes that Eminent Domain should be categorically banned. (Indeed, much of the litigation over the related topic of takings objects to the lack of adequate compensation rather than the taking per se.)

            A sovereign government has an absolute right to take any real property that it deems useful to further public purposes. All that the 5th Amendment and corresponding state provisions do is ensure fair compensation for being deprived of property.

            While there may appear to be a loss of liberty involved in government takings of property, that is an illusion, since all property is owned subject to the right of the government to take it in return for compensation. Anyone who bought property without knowing this should have read the Constitution. (If there is a loss of liberty, it is at the expense of taxpayers who are the ultimate source of the funds used for compensation.)

            As for my specific comment a the the top of the thread, I am simply noting that landowners will be compensated based on the pre-wall value of the seized property, and will then likely enjoy post-wall appreciation of the remaining property. This is not an unusual situation, and indeed happens all the time, as when a state seizes part of a farmer’s land to build a road, with the result that the increased accessibility of the land due to the road makes it suitable for development.

            1. You excluded the middle pretty hard between ‘ban ED’ and ‘this is an abuse of both the practice and the procedure.’

              A sovereign government has an absolute right to take any real property that it deems useful to further public purposes.
              Um, THAT’s a pretty new view on the right, I’m quite sure.

              While there may appear to be a loss of liberty involved in government takings of property, that is an illusion, since all property is owned subject to the right of the government to take it in return for compensation.
              And this is a complete misunderstanding of what liberty is by anyone’s definition.

              1. Seizing land to build border fortifications is pretty much the definition of an appropriate purpose for eminent domain. One can quibble about the process involved or the amount of compensation due, but the outcome will always be that the government gets the land. There is no right of any individual landowner to undermine the sovereign right of the nation to defend its borders.

                The fact that the government can take any discrete parcel of land in exchange for compensation, is not a threat to liberty by any reasonable definition of the term. The threat comes when the government tries to take too much (or all) of the land through excessive use eminent domain or, more likely, through regulatory taking.

                Note that the requirement of compensation creates a brake on eminent domain, since the government can only take as much as it pays for. Thus, a government that collects a reasonable amount of tax and limits the use of eminent domain to traditional purposes (such as defense of national sovereignty) is unlikely to pose a great threat to liberty.

  13. Lesson: Dont buy or take land from others near a national border.

    1. I recall reading once that the actual border was a 50′ wide strip of federal property….which seems adequate for a wall, and an access road.

      The landowners that don’t want the wall – do they object to the government agents driving on their land, rescuing the illegals who cross before they die of dehydration?

      1. I suspect nearly all of the landowners are Hispanics themselves, so given Hispanics’ tendency to feel more kinship to others with brown skin instead of their fellow “citizens,” it’s not a huge surprise.

        1. Most ‘hispanics’ (a ficticious categorization, btw) support legal immigration. I am the first person in my family born in the US. My parents and grandparents were born in Central America, my family history (both sides) is traceable to 13th century Spain. I am (was) blond and blue eyed. I am a physician, everyone in my generation in my family (brothers/sisters/cousins) have at least graduate degrees.

          What exactly do I, as a ‘hispanic’ have in common with (say) a member of an un-contacted Indian tribe in Ecuador? Yet the term ‘hispanic’ binds us together.

          And most ranchers support border walls: The depredations the illegals commit damages their bottom line.

  14. Why do you assume that the land owners for the most part are willing to sell their land? The illegals do an incredible amount of damage to the land, leaving trash, disrupting water sources, damaging range fencing, stealing, killing animals.

    AFAIK there are one or two private land holders that have complained, plus a small band of native Americans…

    Well, OK: We will build the rest of the barrier and let the bad guys channel through your property… Not an issue.

    1. This could be a reasonable compromise: build the wall everywhere except on the property of the objecting owners…

      After a year or two of watching illegals come through the gap on their property, they may demand to build a wall there.

      1. Leaving big gaps i your wall to pwn the libs.

      2. Not only watch them. but arrest them and throw them back over the border (I’d build them a trebuchet for the trip)….

  15. This synopsis raises interesting questions.
    I voted for Trump. I have never been convinced that a ‘wall’ is the answer just on a practical level. I’m more convinced that there are better means of controlling immigration and also aware that to fix the immigration problem would take adults who are not partisan politicians. That said I have some questions coming out of reading this.

    Of the land that would have to be taken to build the wall how much of it (not looking for precise numbers) is what type of ‘land’…for instance suburban, commercial, warehouse, farm/ranch, etc. Growing up close to the Canadian border, I have always pictured the southern one to be more open scrub than anything. The northern border used to be able to be pretty much walked across in or out and there are many places with towns/suburbs right there.
    I do remember as a kid visiting southern California (Imperial Beach) and simply walking across into Mexico to see a bull ring, then walking back with no problem. That was in the 80’s and I know there were people coming north there at that timetoo and that immigration would periodically pick them up.

    As far as the tribal land how is that controlled (if indeed it is) currently, who is responsible for controlling it and is it as problematic in terms of smuggling as other parts of the border. I guess I’m wondering if the tribes tend to see the border as a source of problems or if they view it substantially differently.

    Just curious really.

  16. This line of argument makes little sense to me. If Santa Anna was revived and started engaging in border skirmishes there is no doubt the government could erect defensive fortifications using this same power at this same location regardless of if Congress had yet declared war.

    The power quite clearly exists and is proper. The only question is whether this is a proper application, which Somin fails to address because he’s too caught up immolating various strawmen he has constructed.

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