MCDANIEL: Trump’s Position on Eminent Domain is Troubling


BY: Chris McDaniel @senatormcdaniel

Donald Trump has proven to be a political game changer. His willingness to take on the establishment is inspiring. Along with millions of others, he has garnered my attention. He endorsed me in my race for Senate, and I remain grateful for his support.  

But his continued insistence on defending the abusive use of eminent domain should concern all who value the Constitution.  

In writing this, I know I stand to offend many of my supporters. But I write this for them. My oath is to the Constitution, so remaining silent in the face of its violation would be an indictment against everything we have fought to achieve. Even if it hurts me politically, I must defend it and our civil liberties, or else I become what we have struggled to vanquish.

To the issue, Donald Trump defends his use of eminent domain for development purposes by misleading us on his proposed use. While happily admitting that he used the “takings” power to fight with a woman in Atlantic City who refused to give him her property so that he could expand a hotel, he then intentionally dodges the core objection, by arguing, “without it we wouldn’t have roads, highways, airports, schools or even pipelines.”  

Shockingly, Trump seems to argue that because eminent domain exists, the people must ignore and sanction its misuse.  

For more than two centuries, the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment imposed an essential limitation on the scope of government’s eminent domain authority, since the “takings” clause of the Amendment was consistently and correctly interpreted to prohibit the taking of private property for private use even if just compensation was paid.  

The government was not permitted to confiscate property from one private individual and transfer it to another; all government takings of private property presupposed an actual public purpose such as highways, schools or courthouses. So, at least to this extent, Trump is correct — if the taking is for a genuine public use, then the exercise of condemnation is Constitutionally permitted.

However, after the United States Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London, certain longstanding protections provided by the Fifth Amendment were stripped away. In Kelo, the Court dramatically altered the Constitution’s original understanding by expanding the scope of “public use” to encompass non-traditional and even private uses. 

By a vote of 5-4, the Court held that the government’s power of eminent domain may be used to take private property – one’s home, business, farm or church – based on any number of purported justifications, including the possibility of tax revenue generation or even presumably to enhance aesthetics.

In broadly construing the “public use” language of the “takings” clause to encompass any secondary benefits imaginable, private property rights – as traditionally understood – were eviscerated.  

The Court’s decision fashioned the possibility of individuals having their property forcibly conveyed, via the government, to any tax-generating entity, corporate or otherwise, thereby advancing the economic interests of entities with disproportionate power over government affairs.  

And this is precisely what Donald Trump is advocating.

Had the framers of our Constitution intended the “public use” language to have such sweeping scope, they would have selected a more expansive phrase for inclusion in the Amendment’s text, such as “general welfare.” Instead, the specifically-chosen “public use” language was more narrowly construed, as it simply embodied the founders’ understanding that ownership of property is a natural and fundamental right.

History demonstrates that secure property rights are an indispensable condition for the preservation of freedom, economic prosperity and social harmony. Our founders recognized property rights as among the most sacred of American liberties, taking up arms against an English system in which the rich and powerful could take whatever property they wanted by utilizing the sovereign’s proposed justification for transfer. They concluded it was their responsibility to protect against the abuses of government, extolling the Constitution as the guarantor of additional security to liberty and property. 

Fearing government’s arbitrary confiscation and subsequent transfer of property, early patriot Arthur Lee wrote in 1775, “The right of property is the guardian of every other right, and to deprive a people of this, is in fact to deprive them of their liberty.” Alexander Hamilton concurred, arguing “one great object of government is the personal protection and the security of property.”

The drafter of the “takings” clause, James Madison, also made his intentions perfectly clear: “A Government is instituted to protect property of every sort. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.” 

And yet, despite their unwavering support of private property, our rights are now being threatened, with the most vulnerable among us bearing the most significant burdens. 

Economically disadvantaged communities are less likely to put their lands to the highest and best economical use, making their lands ripe for government taking. Since the poor are, generally speaking, the least politically powerful segment of a community, they usually lack the political force necessary to deter or alter the power of government. They are more likely to suffer the indignity and pain of losing their property, including sentimental possessions such as beloved family land and homes.

But the loss of one’s sentimental possessions, though important, pales in comparison to our collective loss of liberty. 

In a free market, there is a process for purchasing property, when one individual desires the property of another. The potential purchaser makes an offer to buy. If the offer is refused, then a new proposal can be made. But he cannot simply take what he wants.  

Nor can he use the power of government to get his way.

To believe otherwise is an affront to all we hold dear. 

Chris is an attorney, conservative commentator and a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014. He has represented the 42nd District, which encompasses part of South Mississippi, since 2008. He resides with his family in Ellisville, Mississippi.

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PLUNKETT: Cruz has proven his leadership and character to conservatives. 


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BY: B. Keith Plunkett  @Keithplunkett

I was honored when Senator Ted Cruz asked me to help with his campaign for President here in Mississippi as his state co-chairman. I’ve actively worked and volunteered for political campaigns in Mississippi now for over a decade; at times my participation has been as simple as offering a helping hand and sponsoring events, at other times I’ve been called into action to play some official role as a campaign staffer, then at other times I’ve acted as a behind the scenes editor, writer and communications consultant. 

From the standpoint of someone involved in politics, to be called on by a presidential contender can be heady stuff. Thanks to the way I was taught by my family, I have always striven to reject politics as personal vindication. I’m always willing to discuss and debate the direction of our state and our nation, and what the evidence reveals sent us careening off course as a country. If something is right it’s right. The truth doesn’t change no matter the fervor of the campaign or it’s followers. I’m also not the guy who ruins family dinners or time with friends with feverish apocalyptic predictions over the next election.

I, like so many, have not always been successful at maintaining that balance. Nonetheless, I am blessed by a good family that has kept me grounded.

That’s not to say all passion should be removed from the political process. Indeed, without passion, the political exercise is one of mere utility which leads to scientific method as the only measure of society. Measurement and results are important, but that type of pure mechanical view dismisses and diminishes the heart as a driving force of humanity. Without a willingness to look inward to the soul, even if only occasionally, we can never be anything more than animals acting on instinct. God is far greater, His intentions for us are not so undemanding.

Individual character in these matters are of the utmost importance, lest society become ruled by anarchic impulse, wild-eyed excitement and cultural corruption.

To be honestly focused on the future of our nation requires us to look past the latest “bimbo” tweet and to dig deeper into the serious; it is to look at candidates as more than the political equivalent personality of our favorite sports team; it is to look at the character of the person, the policies they propose and the record they have put together promoting those policies. No man or woman has a perfect past, but we should at the very least be willing to assess his or her attempts at virtuously applying the principle of their beliefs.

It is easy in our current circus atmosphere to become distracted and forget that conservatives didn’t magically arrive at this time and place. Many have worked tirelessly for several years across the country, some at great personal expense, to stand up and challenge the politically powerful partnership that has our nation focused away from the tried and true and towards a system of experimental government. That threat is still with us, although now not so well hidden as before.

Sen. Ted Cruz is owed a great deal of credit for his courage on the floor of the U.S. Senate uncovering this for the general public to see. It may be more fun now in a campaign season for some to talk of conspiracies and to participate in playground antics. But, while many voters were only peripherally paying attention over the previous 3 to 4 years, Senator Cruz was facing down power where it currently resides and realigning the political conversation in our country to more suitable and sensible ground. Does anyone really believe for a moment that we Republicans would be having discussions during this primary campaign of such a conservative nature were it not for that work?

Any student of leadership can tell you the greatest leaders don’t work to rise above others; they work to help others to rise. Senator Cruz has worked to help conservatives, rightfully oriented outside of Washington, to rise in our country again. No candidate running for president today has sacrificed as much nor proven to show themselves to be a leader of greater caliber. When conservatives go to caucus and to vote in primaries over the coming months, we would do well to remember that where we are today is a result of the leadership that got us here.

Keith Plunkett is the Mississippi Co-Chairman of the Cruz 2016 Presidential Campaign. He lives in Flora, MS. with his wife and two sons. 

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MS Gulf Coast gets ready for Trump show. 


  

Trump has booked the Mississippi Coast Coliseum for his first public appearance in Mississippi since his failed attempt in the mid-1990s to build a $60 million casino-aquarium in Gulfport. How will “The Donald” for president play in the Magnolia State? Probably pretty well, if he’s still in the hunt by then, even some of his opponents’ Mississippi reps grudgingly admit.

“I don’t know of any polling directly in Mississippi right now, but at the local cafes and other places I go to, he seems to be resonating quite well,” said Jackson attorney and former gubernatorial candidate Mitch Tyner, recently named chairman of Trump’s Mississippi campaign committee.

Tyner said Trump’s uninhibited straight talk, independence from PACs and lobbies, and even his personal wealth appeal to Mississippians fed up with Beltway politics and power brokers.

“And I see a really diverse group of people supporting him. At Tommy’s Trading Post last week, there was a guy about 80 years old praising him. My wife, who’s a jeweler, works with an 18-year-old female who’s supporting him. He’s appealing to a lot of folks, and yes, I think he would be appealing to both Democrats and Republicans here.”
Tyner said, “So many people in the public feel like we are electing folks put before us by the parties and the super PACs and the lobbyists.”

State Sen. Chris McDaniel is Mississippi chairman for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’ presidential campaign. He believes Cruz will win out in the Magnolia State, but “at the same time, I love the courage Trump is displaying.”

“Both (Cruz and Trump) are courageous in their own way,” McDaniel said. “My personal opinion is that Sen. Cruz has a slight nod over Trump because of his ability to communicate the conservative message in a reasonable fashion. All the positive traits of Ben Carson, Rand Paul and Donald Trump — Sen. Cruz can personify them in a single individual.”

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Governor requests federal disaster declaration for storm damaged areas.


  

Gov. Phil Bryant today requested President Barack Obama declare a major disaster declaration for areas affected by severe weather that passed through Mississippi Dec. 23 through Dec. 28.

Based on joint preliminary damage assessments by local officials, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Gov. Bryant has requested the declaration for Benton, Coahoma, Marshall, Quitman and Tippah counties.

If President Obama grants the aid, additional counties may be added to the declaration, pending further damage assessments.

“This funding is critical to helping Mississippians and their communities recover from these devastating storms,” Gov. Bryant said. “We continue to pray for all that were affected and lost so much during the Christmas holidays.”

There have been a total of 11 deaths and damage to numerous homes and businesses in Mississippi attributed to the storms. Several state agencies and many non-profit and faith based groups have been in the affected areas since the storms hit assisting with recovery and rebuilding.

Gov. Phil Bryant Press Release

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Governor and Lt. Governor indicate support for revenue neutral tax proposal.


  

“We are one of the few states in the nation that tax businesses for investing and growing, and that can make it difficult to lure new businesses,” Jay Moon, president of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, said earlier this year when Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves first proposed phasing out the franchise tax. “Eliminating the franchise tax will level the playing field and let people around the world know that Mississippi is open for business.”

Recently, Reeves reiterated his support for phasing out the franchise tax, which is expected to generate about $260 million in state revenue for the coming year. Knox Graham, a spokesman for Gov. Phil Bryant, also has stated the governor “is extremely interested in doing away with the franchise tax.”

Possible personal income tax cuts also could be considered during the 2016 session, which starts Jan. 5.

But on the flip side, business leaders also are pushing a new “Excelerate Mississippi” program to dedicate $375 million in new revenue yearly to road and bridge needs across the state.

To generate the new revenue most likely will take a tax increase, such as on motor fuel or on road use.

“I believe Mississippians make better decisions on how to spend their own money than any governmental entity ever will,” Reeves said recently. “I also believe this is not an either/or decision but a both/and decision. We can continue to grow our economy through both strategic investments in infrastructure and education, and putting more money in the hands of hard-working Mississippians.

“Mississippi needs a tax code that encourages capital investment and economic growth, not one that discourages it.”

Bryant has indicated he might support raising revenue for infrastructure needs if taxes are reduced in other areas to ensure that the proposal is revenue neutral.

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MDE releases detailed results from first comprehensive ACT testing of Mississippi high school juniors. 


  

According to results from the first comprehensive ACT testing of Mississippi juniors, 41 percent met the benchmark score in English, while 16 met the science benchmark score. Overall, only 9 percent of Mississippi juniors met all four college readiness benchmark scores.

29,819 students were tested statewide resulting in an average score of 17.6. The highest composite score outside of the MS School for Math and Science and the MS School for the Arts, schools for gifted students, was 21.0 at Gulfport High School. The lowest composite score was 13.4 at Ruleville Central High School in the Sunflower Consolidated School District, and in West Oktibbeha High School in Oktibbeha County School District. 

The Mississippi Legislature appropriated $1.3 million for the program. 

See full results HERE. 

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MDE has reimbursed only 131 of 286 special needs vouchers, school choice advocates say development will take time. 


  

While 54 of the 144 districts across the state have at least one former special education student approved for the program, more than half of the students were from metropolitan Jackson or DeSoto County, urban areas with multiple private schools aimed at students with disabilities. Some rural residents either have no private schools nearby or they live near private schools that lack extensive special education programs. Every public school district is required to offer special education services.

School choice supporter Grant Callen, executive director of Empower Mississippi, cautions that it’s too early to judge whether the program can still be a success. He said applications opened after many parents had already made arrangements for their children for this school year.

“It’s going to take some time for the private marketplace to develop,” he said.

Callen noted, for example, that after lawmakers created an earlier program to pay for private schooling for dyslexic students, more schools are exploring programs for those students.

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