The Guardian of Every Other Right: A Constitutional History of Property Rights

The Guardian of Every Other Right: A Constitutional History of Property Rights

The Guardian of Every Other Right: A Constitutional History of Property Rights

The Guardian of Every Other Right: A Constitutional History of Property Rights

Synopsis

The Guardian of Every Other Right chronicles the pivotal role of property rights in fashioning the American constitutional order from the colonial era to the current controversies over eminent domain and land use controls. The book emphasizes the interplay of law, ideology, politics, and economic change in shaping constitutional thought and provides a historical perspective on the contemporary debate about property rights. Since publication of the original edition of this work, both academic and popular interest in the constitutional rights of property owners has markedly increased. Now in its third edition, this text has been revised to incorporate a full treatment of important judicial decisions, notable legislation, and scholarship since the second edition appeared in 1997. In particular, Ely provides helpful background and context for understanding the controversial Kelo decision relating to the exercise of eminent domain power for "public use." Covering the entire history of property rights in the United States, this new edition continues to fill a major gap in the literature of constitutional history and is an ideal text for students of legal and constitutional history.

Excerpt

This book is part of the Bicentennial Essays on the Bill of Rights, a series that has resulted from the fruitful collaboration of the Organization of American Historians’ Committee on the Bicentennial of the Constitution and Oxford University Press. In 1986 the committee concluded that one of the most appropriate ways in which historians could commemorate the then-forthcoming bicentennial of the Bill of Rights was to foster better teaching about it in undergraduate classrooms. Too often, the committee decided, students could have learned more about the history of liberty in America if they only had had basic texts analyzing the evolution of the most important provisions of the Bill of Rights. There are, of course, many fine specialized studies of the first amendments to the U.S. Constitution, but these works invariably concentrate on a particular Supreme Court case and technical legal developments. What the committee wanted, and what Nancy Lane at Oxford University Press vigorously supported, were books that would explore in brief compass the main themes in the evolution of civil liberties and civil rights as they have been revealed through the Bill of Rights. The books in this series, therefore, bridge a significant gap in the literature of the history of liberty, by offering synthetic examinations rooted in the best and most recent literature in history, political science, and law. Their authors have also framed these nontechnical studies within the contours of American history. The authors have taken as their goal making the history of rights and liberties resonate with developments in the nation’s social, cultural, and political history.

Kermit L. Hall . . .

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