Who Owns the Skies? Ad Coelum, Property Rights, and State Sovereignty

Forthcoming in Eyes to the Sky: Privacy and Commerce in the Age of the Drone (Matthew Feeney ed., Cato Institute, August 2021).
2021. Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. 2369.

39 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2021 Last revised: 21 Sep 2021

Date Written: April 9, 2021

Abstract

In light of the history of the doctrine of ad coelum, as well as the states’ preeminent role (secured by the Tenth Amendment) in regulating property and airspace up to the 500-foot level, it is remarkable that the federal government has begun to claim that it controls everything above the blades of grass. This chapter challenges those statements, demonstrating that history and law establish that property owners, and the states, control the airspace adjacent to the land.

Keywords: national security law, property rights, air and space law, ad coelum, english common law, legal history, state sovereignty

Suggested Citation

K. Donohue, Laura, Who Owns the Skies? Ad Coelum, Property Rights, and State Sovereignty (April 9, 2021). Forthcoming in Eyes to the Sky: Privacy and Commerce in the Age of the Drone (Matthew Feeney ed., Cato Institute, August 2021).
2021. Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. 2369., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3823362

Laura K. Donohue (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
202 662-9282 (Phone)
202 662-9282 (Fax)

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