A Property Clause for the Twenty-First Century
John D. Leshy
University of California Hastings College of the Law
University of Colorado Law Review, Vol. 75, No. 4, 2004
This article tries to draw some lessons from the way the Supreme Court has addressed implementation of the Property Clause of the U.S. Constitution by the Congress and the Executive, the more political branches of the national government. The Court has long said that the Property Clause contains no judicially enforceable limits on those other branches, and that stance is likely to continue. This article argues, instead, that the Property Clause can be said to have framed an attitude the Supreme Court has brought to bear on legal issues involving federal lands. That attitude, which may fairly be viewed as an expression of constitutional common law, favors retention of federal land in national ownership (retention), national over state and local authority (nationalization), and environmental preservation (conservation). It concludes that the Court’s decisions embodying that attitude have left a decidedly positive imprint on American life and culture.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: Constitutional Law, Property Clause, Federal Lands, Public Lands, Federalism, Natural Resources Law and Policy
JEL Classification: K32, K40, Q28, Q38
Date posted: June 12, 2010
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