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The Evolution of the Public Trust Doctrine and the Degradation of Trust Resources: Courts, Trustees and Political Power in Wisconsin

63 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2011  

Melissa K. Scanlan

Vermont Law School

Date Written: September 16, 2000

Abstract

The public trust doctrine is rooted in ancient Roman law and the Wisconsin Constitution. Ancient Roman jurists believed that the natural law concept that the waters are common to all was not subject to the changing whims of legis- latures. Similarly, modern theorists assert that a constitutionally-based doctrine will be more insulated from politics. This Comment demonstrates the limits of these theories. The trust doctrine is not immutable. Based on interviews with the trustees of Wisconsin's water resources, this Comment uncovers the constraints on the trustees. It shows that trust resources are at risk due to politically-motivated decisions and lax enforcement.

Keywords: public trust doctrine, empirical study, Wisconsin, Department of Natural Resources, water law, water, riparian rights, institutes of justinian

JEL Classification: K32

Suggested Citation

Scanlan, Melissa K., The Evolution of the Public Trust Doctrine and the Degradation of Trust Resources: Courts, Trustees and Political Power in Wisconsin (September 16, 2000). Ecology Law Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 135, 2000; Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper Archival Collection. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1928621

Melissa K. Scanlan (Contact Author)

Vermont Law School ( email )

68 North Windsor Street
P.O. Box 60
South Royalton, VT 05068
United States

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