Property Metaphors and Kelo V. New London: Two Views of the Castle

6 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2006

Date Written: February 3, 2006


Much of the popular outcry against the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London can be understood in terms of the public's commitment to the conception of the home as a castle. This familiar metaphor is typically viewed as aligned with libertarian conceptions of property and of the right to exclude. Taken to its logical conclusion, the metaphor's connotation of an owner's "absolute dominion" would seem to rule out the exercise of eminent domain altogether. A different understanding of the castle metaphor is possible, however, one rooted in notions of the dignity of home ownership. While such a dignitary understanding of the home as the castle remains true to the intuitions underlying the metaphor, it yields a far more flexible stance towards eminent domain.

Suggested Citation

Penalver, Eduardo Moises, Property Metaphors and Kelo V. New London: Two Views of the Castle (February 3, 2006). Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 108, Available at SSRN: or

Eduardo Moises Penalver (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States

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