Ilya Somin, Washington Post, 2015 - David Boaz of the Cato Institute has an excellent article summarizing Donald Trump’s shameful history of promoting eminent domain abuse for the purpose of seizing property from homeowners and businesses who refuse to sell to him:
For more than 30 years Vera Coking lived in a three-story house just off the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Donald Trump built his 22-story Trump Plaza next door. In the mid-1990s Trump wanted to build a limousine parking lot for the hotel, so he bought several nearby properties. But three owners, including the by then elderly and widowed Ms Coking, refused to sell.
As his daughter Ivanka said in introducing him at his campaign announcement, Donald Trump doesn’t take no for an answer.
Trump turned to a government agency – the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) – to take Coking’s property….
Peter Banin and his brother owned another building on the block. A few months after they paid $500,000 to purchase the building for a pawn shop, CRDA offered them $174,000 and told them to leave the property. A Russian immigrant, Banin said: “I knew they could do this in Russia, but not here. I would understand if they needed it for an airport runway, but for a casino?”
Ultimately, as Boaz notes, Trump and the CRDA lost in court in CRDA v. Banin.... As Boaz notes, this was not the only time that Trump sought to use eminent domain to seize property from unwilling owners. In 1994, he also lobbied the city of Bridgeport to condemn five small businesses so he could build an office and entertainment complex that he absurdly claimed would turn Bridgeport into a “national tourist destination.”
On this issue, unlike most others, Trump has been consistent over time. When the Supreme Court narrowly upheld “economic development” takings that transfer property to private parties in the 2005 Kelo case, the ruling was widely denounced on both left and right. But Trump defended it stating that “I happen to agree with it 100%. if you have a person living in an area that’s not even necessarily a good area, and … government wants to build a tremendous economic development, where a lot of people are going to be put to work and … create thousands upon thousands of jobs and beautification and lots of other things, I think it happens to be good.” .... Trump did not merely claim that the decision was legally correct; he argued that it was “good” to give government the power to forcibly displace homeowners and small businesses and transfer their property to influential developers on the theory that doing so might promote “economic development.”
“I think eminent domain is wonderful,” Trump told Bret Baier on Fox News. And why wouldn’t he? Over the course of his career in business, Trump has repeatedly asked the government to invoke eminent domain to clear land for his projects, whether it was a hotel parking lot (for limousines!) in Atlantic City, or an office and entertainment complex in Connecticut. Not to mention that Trump’s entire ethos is the political equivalent of a bulldozer. As for the people displaced by property seizing, Trump didn’t have much sympathy. It’s often just one “hold-out” out of a dozen who decide to sell their homes for much more than they’d otherwise be worth. “Don’t forget, they get a lot of money,” he said.