As a Constitutional conservative, the very thought of changing things in the Constitution gives me pause. I’m reluctant about “modernizing” as a trend towards the Constitution based upon what we’ve seen done by the Supreme Court over the decades as well as our current President. The SCOTUS took advantage of the Constitution with rulings such as gay marriage last year and the POTUS has tried to do anything he can to circumvent the Constitution.
With all of that said, responsible and conservative adjustments should be made to the Constitution. One such issue that needs clarity is eminent domain. I’m not one of those purists who believes that private property should under absolutely zero circumstance be taken from individuals. There are extreme situations when such a need applies. For example, if the Keystone pipeline is to ever be built, we would need to use eminent domain to properly install it.
That is the least extreme concept that I can think of that would be acceptable in a new form of eminent domain. In other words, the case needs to be clear that it is overwhelmingly for the greater good that eminent domain is invoked.
The second thing that needs to be changed is a redefinition of fair returns. If someone is going to be compelled by the courts to give up their property for the sake of the common good, they shouldn’t be compensated fairly. They should be over-compensated. They should consider themselves blessed that their land happened to be in the right place at the right time in order to give them a windfall return. I’m not talking a percentage above fair market value. I’m talking about a factor. If the factor were set at five and someone’s land is worth $100,000 on the free market, the government should pay them $500,000 for the land.
Again, I cannot stress that with dangerous waters such as the ones we’re discussing, this would have to be done perfectly. Amending the Constitution is no light matter. Redefining it by establishing a rock solid precedent could work, but it would be better as an Amendment. Most uses of eminent domain are righteous, but as we’ve seen with Donald Trump, there are times when it’s abused for frivolous reasons. This cannot be allowed to be corrupted by billionaires or corporations that have connections, bribe officials, and make a good sales pitch.
If you’re not familiar with the dastardly use of eminent domain by Trump, here’s a recap:
As Reuters rightly points out, this could be one of the minor but singular and defining concepts that Cruz could use. It’s not just about attacking Trump for his past. It’s about defending citizens in the future who could find themselves on the receiving end of another billionaire’s greedy whims. A President Cruz should strive to narrow the scope of eminent domain as a tool for good that is immune to the evils that it can be used to perpetrate.
— Ruth Shields (@anchorwomen) January 28, 2016
Eminent domain is a necessary tool, but it’s something that needs to be tightened. The next President must be willing to take on the issue before another billionaire uses it to attempt to hurt people for the sake of greed.