Donald Trump said something incredibly un-conservative earlier this week. During an interview with Bret Baier of Fox News, Trump spoke in glowing terms of the completely legal tactic the government uses to steal private property. The process, which is called “eminent domain” allows the government (and private companies who lobby the government) to confiscate privately owned land for the use of the community. Sadly, eminent domain is often misused by corrupt bureaucrats and the politicians that they’ve purchased.
Donald Trump himself has made disgusting use of this practice and used the government to help him take the private property of others when they refused to sell it to him. (You can read about the terrible story here.)
“I think eminent domain is wonderful if you’re building a highway and you need to build as an example, a highway, and you’re going to be blocked by a hold-out or in some cases, it’s a hold-out, just so you understand, nobody knows this better than I do, I built a lot of buildings in Manhattan and you’ll have 12 sites and you’ll get 11 and you’ll have the one hold-out and you end up building around them and everything else.
I think eminent domain for massive projects, for instance you’re going to create thousands of jobs and you have somebody that’s in the way. Eminent domain, they get a lot of money. And you need a house in a certain location because you’re going to build this massive development that’s going to employ thousands of people or you’re going to build a factory that without this little house, you can’t build the factory. I think eminent domain is fine.”
Now fellow GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) has responded to Trump’s ridiculous comments with an essay explaining why Trump is WRONG.
Though it may not make headlines as often as other issues, the fundamental right to private property has been under assault for years through our government’s abuses of eminent domain. Eminent domain is the authority vested in government to force the sale of private property. While this authority can be a necessary evil in rare cases related to public development, such as the building of crucial infrastructure, its modern use far exceeds this limitation. Today, it is often wielded by crony capitalist politicians to benefit wealthy and powerful private developers.
One of my proudest accomplishments as a public servant was leading the effort in Florida to pass both a law and a constitutional amendment to keep private developers from using eminent domain to take property away from private owners. This effort became necessary after the egregiously flawed Kelo v. New London Supreme Court decision made private use of eminent domain legal unless states banned it. In the years since, the legislation I passed in the Florida House has become a model for states across the country.
Like the defense of other crucial rights, conservative efforts to defend private property are grounded deep in the history of our nation. In fact, abuses of this right were one of the catalysts for the American Revolution. As the first Continental Congress declared, “[The colonists] are entitled to life, liberty and property: and they have never ceded to any foreign power … a right to dispose of either without their consent.”
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com