Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Don't Cater to Land Barons like Trump

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Don't Cater to Land Barons like Trump

Article excerpt

Byline: Star Parker

Donald Trump is running a successful presidential campaign, but he seems to have little interest in what exactly it is that makes America great.

This paradox is on display when Trump talks about eminent domain, which allows government to take private property for public use.

Trump says, "Eminent domain is wonderful."

The Fifth Amendment to our Constitution tells us: "No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

So what is "public use"?

George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin sums it up as follows: "Until the early 20th century, most courts interpreted those words to cover things such as roads or power lines - projects owned either directly by the government or by private owners who have a legal obligation to serve the entire public, such as utility companies."

"By the 1950s, however," Somin continues, "the original meaning of 'public use' had been largely abandoned. Legal elites came to believe that government planners should have nearly limitless authority to take property to promote growth and combat blight afflicting the urban poor."

Trump includes himself among these "legal elites."

This is what happened in the Kelo vs. City of New London decision in 2005 when the Supreme Court sided with the city of New London, Conn., which seized property to make way for a commercial development anchored by a new research facility for Pfizer Corporation.

One of the property owners, Susette Kelo, sued the city, claiming this seizing of private property for a private development was not "public use" as intended in the constitution.

The court sided with the city, 5-4.

The two solid conservatives on the court at the time, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, sided with Kelo, who was represented by the libertarian public interest law firm Institute for Justice. …

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