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Sep 12

Protecting Property Rights in the 21st Century

Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist once wrote that the Supreme Court treats “property” as “a poor relation,” deserving of far less protection than “life” or “liberty” receive. As Paul J. Larkin, Jr., explains in a soon-to-be-published article, however, the Framers did not see it that way. They believed that neither liberty nor property could exist without the other. That belief, moreover, was nothing new to any eighteenth-century English subject, whether living in London or Williamsburg. Anglo-American traditions, customs, and law held that property was an essential ingredient of liberty and must be protected against arbitrary governmental interference. In their book Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st Century America, Timothy and Christina Sandefur make a powerful case that property ownership still is an essential human right in the 21st century, why the nation should return to the Framers’ vision of property rights, and how that goal can be accomplished. Through legal analysis and real-life stories, the authors explain how federal, state, and local governments have trespassed on property rights through unreasonable expansion of the eminent domain power, regulation of occupational licensing, forfeiture of assets allegedly connected with a crime, and protection of the environment. Join us for a discussion of the historical importance of property rights, the need to lift property out of the basement to which it has been relegated in constitutional law, and how ordinary property owners can work to stop government abuse of property rights.

More About the Speakers

Timothy and Christina Sandefur
Goldwater Institute and Authors of Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st Century America

Paul J. Larkin, Jr.
Senior Legal Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation

Hosted By

Alden  Abbott Alden Abbott

Deputy Director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and the John, Barbara, and Victoria Rumpel Senior Legal Fellow Read More