The necessity of eminent domain for Donald Trump’s proposed border wall

I wrote a short piece for the Monkey Cage — a political science blog hosted by the Washington Post — based on my recent article on eminent domain (which I also blurbed here at DPP). The very short version is: if Donald Trump is elected president and seeks to make good on his promise to build a wall across America’s southern border, he would have to use the government’s power of eminent domain to take thousands of properties from individuals and small businesses–mostly in Texas. My research indicates that eminent domain is unpopular in the best of circumstances, but is really unpopular when the takings are for non-traditional “broad” uses that the public would not actually use. As a result, I argue that the wall would become really unpopular very quickly if Trump (or anyone else, for that matter) tries to actually build such a wall.

See the full piece here.

Editor’s Note: And, if you’re curious about hearing Trump’s perspective on eminent domain, in his own words, here’s an interesting YouTube video for you to view. 

Reading Around the Internet: October 26, 2014

Happy Halloween! And for everyone experiencing the beauty of autumn, as we are here in Cape Girardeau, I hope you get outside to enjoy it!

This week’s Reading Around the Internet isn’t just about disasters or property. I’ve included a summary of a piece about the judicial selection process as well as upcoming elections, since both are matters that can have a direct impact on the various topics we blog about:

Obama’s Appointments to the Federal Judiciary

Who our judges are matters a lot, or at least most political scientists think so. Yet one thing we also know: it’s not as easy as thinking that, when the President is a Democrat, he’ll nominate liberals; and when the President is a Republic he nominates conservatives. Different presidents have had different agendas with the courts. Jeffrey Toobin, writing in The New Yorker, takes a look at President Obama’s nominees. Toobin asked President Obama what he thought the most significant decision was at the Supreme Court during his time in office. The answer surprised Toobin, causing him to comment, “In other words, Obama’s favorite decision was one in which the Court allowed the political process to go forward, one state at a time. There’s more good material than this in the article — definitely worth the read.

(In the name of full disclosure, Professor Sheldon Goldman, who is quoted in the piece, was one of my most important professors in graduate school — he’s also one of the foremost experts in the US on judicial selection. But no, I am not recommending it just because he’s quoted — it really is an interesting piece about a very important topic.)

Pondering Preparedness Post-Sandy

Jennifer Peltz and Wayne Parry take a close look at disaster preparedness after Sandy in the region hit by that superstorm. Peltz and Parry argue that, though a lot of effort has been put into preparations, and a lot of preparations have been made, there’s still much to do. Work on floodgates, backup power systems at the hospitals, and the installation of generators at gas stations, as well as redrawn evacuation-zone maps have been produced since Sandy. However, a lot of work has yet to be completed, and so many areas remain vulnerable.

Elections!

We do in fact have an election on the horizon! The Christian Science Monitor reports that environmental groups, in a bid to make climate change a bipartisan issue, have begun to Republic party candidates. Not all Republicans are getting this support, but key Republicans are. When you read this, keep an eye on the part in the article that describes the environmental groups’ fundraising structure. They have deeper pockets now than in past years, says the article, partly because of some changes in strategy.

Ebola Vaccine

Several countries are working to develop a vaccine for Ebola. The Guardian reports on the progress, as well as providing some of the history of the virus and analysis of the dangers it poses.

Volcanoes

Hawaii’s Klauea volcano has been producing a lava flow for quite some time, but recently the lava flow has picked up speed. As it advances on the small town of Pahoa in the Puna district of the Big Island, residents are being warned that evacuation may be necessary within the next few days. Weather.com has some good coverage, and as it often does, some great photos. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory also provides daily updates here. In the meantime, Hawai’i’s governor has requested federal aid to supplement his state’s own preparations. Keep in mind that Hawai’i has also experienced torrential rains and flooding after being hit by tropical storms — and the storm season is not yet over.