Thursday, March 10, 2016

The War Against Eminent Domain: Rubio v. Cruz

Those of you who watched the Thursday night's debate heard about HB-1 Visas, Common Core, Social Security, etc. But let’s focus on something else: eminent domain. The question for Property Profs Blog readers—who is more against eminent domain, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio? You decide.

From Team Rubio:

The fundamental right to private property has been under assault for years through government’s abuses of eminent domain. Eminent domain is the authority vested in government to force the sale of private property. While this authority can be a necessary evil in rare cases related to public development, such as the building of crucial infrastructure, its modern use far exceeds this limitation. Today, it is often wielded by crony capitalist politicians to benefit wealthy and powerful private developers.

Like the defense of other crucial rights, conservative efforts to defend private property are grounded deep in the history of our nation. In fact, abuses of this right were one of the catalysts for the American Revolution. As the first Continental Congress declared, “[The colonists] are entitled to life, liberty and property: and they have never ceded to any foreign power . . . a right to dispose of either without their consent.”

After being founded, in part, to protect these rights, our government has strayed far from this purpose. Compromise after compromise from elected officials in both parties has resulted in a government that believes it has the power to seize your property and sell it to rent-seeking private interests.

My guess is that some of the "crony capitalists" Rubio is at odds with have donated money to his campaign, but that’s just my guess. Pfizer, the “crony capitalist” at the heart of Kelo gave $5,000 to Rubio’s Senate campaign in 2010, though to be fair, Pfizer gave $5,000 to everyone running in Florida's Senate race that year.

Rubio’s website is not the only place he has attacked the Fifth Amendment. Back when the candidates were going door-to-door in New Hampshire, Rubio blasted Trump for supporting eminent domain. Rubio said while in the Florida legislature, he helped to pass “what has become model legislation for other states around the country, that actually passed both a law and a constitutional amendment that keeps developers like Donald Trump from using the power of eminent domain to take private property away from an owner and give it to another owner.”

While in the Florida legislature, Rubio did in fact do what he said he did.  Rubio sponsored the Florida legislation in 2006 (House Bill 1567 and House Joint Resolution 1569) that makes eminent domain less than helpful for developers. Under Florida law sponsored by Rubio (and signed into law by then-Governor Jeb Bush), localities must wait ten years before transferring land taken by eminent domain from one owner to another, thereby effectively making it a less-than helpful means for developers to acquire property.

If teams are being picked for a second Kelo showdown, Rubio is certainly on O'Connor's team, and really probably on Thomas' team.   

Now from Cruz’ Corner:

Not to be out done, Cruz has also boasted about how much he dislikes eminent domain, though Cruz has done so through TV ads, instead of his campaign website.


Protecting private property rights is an important issue for many of the early primary states like South Carolina, Nevada, and Alaska, so the Cruz campaign cut another ad regarding eminent domain, using very young children, Donald Trump-like dolls, and doll houses.  Needless to say, this ad caught the eye of many in reporters.  


And then there was a third ad.  


It's safe to say, Cruz, like Rubio, is also against using the Fifth Amendment to acquire private property for public use.  Except, Cruz does have an exception his anti-eminent domain stance.  That exception?  Immigration.  In July 2012, Cruz was asked about whether eminent domain could be used to take Texans' property for the purposes of building a wall between Texas and Mexico.  The answer: a resounding yes because it was an issue of national security.  


So you can decide--who stands stronger against eminent domain?  Cruz or Rubio?  

Tune in soon for a look at John Kasich's stance on the Fifth Amendment and then we will turn to the Dems.

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