The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

Saturday, January 5, 2019

What the Hell Is the 'Military Version of Eminent Domain'? - Hit & Run :

President Donald Trump says he's willing to use "the military version of eminent domain" to build his proposed wall on the U.S.–Mexico border. It's not exactly clear what he means by that.

Addressing reporters from the Rose Garden today, Trump kept pushing for his ill-advised border wall. But what if Congress refuses to acquiesce to his demand for $5 billion in funding? Why, he'd declare a national emergency "and build [the wall] very quickly," he said.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that he can do that, he'd run into another problem right away: The federal government owns less than one-third of the land on the southern border. The rest belongs to other entities, including states, Native American tribes, and private individuals. Most of the border land in Texas is private property.

Not a problem, said Trump: "You have to use eminent domain," he declared. That's when the government forces a property owner to sell, at a price set by the government. "If we had one person that wouldn't sell us...then we wouldn't be able to build proper border security because we'd have that big opening."

"I think it's a fair process," he added.

And what happens if Trump can't seize people's land with normal eminent domain? That's where the "military version" comes in:


I assume PDT is bluffing.

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'ill-advised border wall' According to whom?

Posted by: Stu Buchalter | Jan 5, 2019 2:49:26 PM

If some property owner refuses to grant an easement for the wall, Trump should then re-route the wall so that the property owner's land ends up on the Mexican side.

Posted by: Paul Mapes | Jan 6, 2019 11:20:07 AM