Claiming While Complaining on the Federal Public Lands: A Problem for Public Property or a Special Case? - A Comment on Bruce Huber, The Durability of Private Claims to Public Property, 102 Georgetown Law Journal 991 (2014)
22 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2015 Last revised: 9 Dec 2015
Date Written: October 29, 2015
Bruce Huber's thoughtful article, The Durability of Private Claims to Public Property, is an excellent demonstration of the ways that older uses of the federal public lands continue long past the times they should be expected to expire. But this commentary argues that the federal public lands are not necessarily a stand-in for public property in general; most other kinds of public property have far fewer problems with durable private claims. The federal public lands have particular characteristics that lend themselves to private users' first asserting and then overstaying their entitlements. The problem of durable claims on the public lands is in some ways an instance of general issues of regulatory change, made more acute by the federal lands’ special characteristics. This commentary flags one of these characteristics in particular: the distant echoes of a very old concern about a potential linkage between an "endowment" of large public lands and autocratic government.
Keywords: public property, Federal public lands, Article IV lands, royal domain, early American republic
JEL Classification: K11, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation