The Public Trust Doctrine and Natural Law: Emanations within a Penumbra

58 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2008 Last revised: 25 Mar 2010

George P. Smith II

Catholic University of America (CUA) - Columbus School of Law

Michael W. Sweeney

MetLife

Date Written: March 24, 2010

Abstract

In American jurisprudence, the public trust doctrine emerged as a means of protecting certain limited environmental interests, such as coastal waterways and fishing areas, which were preserved for the benefit of the public and distinguished from grants of private ownership. Modern scholars have, however, called for an expansive application of the public trust doctrine - citing, as such, the growing inventory of "changing public needs" in the environmental context, such as the need for improved air and water quality, and the conservation of natural landscape. This Article examines the history and scope of the public trust doctrine in order to determine how modern resource management fits within the doctrine's development under the Constitution and the Common Law. Such an examination is incomplete without reviewing the foundational Principles of Natural Law underlying the original doctrine. In the end, the Article concludes that modern trust expansion should be limited within the ancient values of principled economic reasoning.

Suggested Citation

Smith, George P. and Sweeney, Michael W., The Public Trust Doctrine and Natural Law: Emanations within a Penumbra (March 24, 2010). Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 307-343, 2006; CUA Columbus School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-2. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1081974

George P. Smith II (Contact Author)

Catholic University of America (CUA) - Columbus School of Law ( email )

3600 John McCormack Rd., NE
Washington, DC 20064
United States

Michael W. Sweeney

MetLife ( email )

United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
229
Rank
107,718
Abstract Views
1,079