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Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Eminent Domain, and the Keystone XL Pipeline

February 8, 2016

By Nick Gillespie

There's no question that one of the most memorable exchanges in last night's GOP debate in New Hampshire came over the question of eminent domain, the constitutionally sanctioned taking of private property for public use. Donald Trump is for robust use of eminent domain, including instances that most people would agree constitute eminent-domain abuse. That is, situations in which the property being seized is delivered either immediately or soon after to a private entity (such as the egregious case in which Trump himself worked with Atlantic City officials to kick a widow out of her house so he could expand a parking lot he owned).

Not all eminent domain is abuse, though, even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled dumbly in Kelo v. New London, the 2005 case that sparked new state-level protections for property owners, that a city could essentially take any property and give it to private developers as long as the planned development would somehow benefit the public via higher tax revenue. (Reason covered Kelo long before the case made it to the Supremes; read our interview right after the discussion with one of the lawyers representing Suzette Kelo, Scott Bullock of the Institute of Justice.)

As Robby Soave has already noted, during last night's debate, Trump clearly lost the audience when he unapologetically defended eminent domain. But he also made a point that received little to no notice but is just as telling as the real-estate mogul's willingness to use whatever levers he can to get what he wants: The Keystone XL pipeline isn't getting built without yuge amounts of eminent domain. And what's more: Jeb Bush, who pushed the Donald out for his willingness to try (unsuccessfully) kick widows out of their homes, agrees.

Read the full article at Reason.com: Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Eminent Domain, and the Keystone XL Pipeline