At a press conference held in Trump Tower New York City on June 16, 2015, Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States by promising to expand the border wall along the Southern United States. President Trump has insisted that his only reasons behind completely separating the United States from Mexico are to curtail illegal immigration and curb drug cartel activity, but many argue that his statements indicate a much more sinister motive based in racial discrimination. The public use requirement of the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause allows the federal government to take private land for the greater public benefit. While the public use requirement of the takings clause is incredibly broad, this note will argue that there can be no public use when the sole motivation behind a taking is racial discrimination. While there have been no direct cases involving the use of eminent domain for a solely discriminatory purpose, cases in other areas make it clear that such a purpose would run afoul of the public use requirement for failure to serve even a basic legitimate government interest. The Equal Protection Clause, specifically the lack of a legitimate government interest or the government’s bare desire to harm a particular group, are useful tools with which this note will analyze President Trump’s statements and opinions about the border wall and whether they are discriminatory in nature and therefore outside the realm of the public use requirement.
Meghan K. Tierney,
President Trump's Big Beautiful Wall: Discrimination, Eminent Domain, and the Public Use Requirement,
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol94/iss1/9