Readings on the Relation of Government to Property and Industry

By Samuel P. Orth | Go to book overview

II THE RESPONSE OF LEGISLATURES AND COURTS TO THE NEWER DEMANDS

AMERICAN LEGISLATION ON PROPERTY RIGHTS1

BY FREDERIC JESUP STIMSON, OF THE HARVARD LAW SCHOOL

(Chap. VII of "Popular Law Making," published by Charles Scribner's Sons, Copyright 1910)1

There are two processes by which the changing public opinion on property relations become fixed: legislation and adjudication. Under a written constitution the latter is scarcely a flexible, while under a democracy the former is a constantly and easily changing, process. The following articles indicate the extent to which recent legislation has responded to popular demand and the attitude of the courts toward changing conditions. -- EDITOR'S NOTE.

When we come to the vast field of legislation in the United States, comprising the law-making of forty-six States, two Territories, the National Congress, and the Federal District, it is difficult to decide how to divide the subject so as to make it manageable. The division made by State codes and revisions, and the United States Revised Statutes, hardly suits our purpose, for it is made rather for lawyers than sociologists or students in comparative legislation. The division made by the valuable "Year Book of Legislation," published by the New York State Library, comprises some twenty subjects: Constitutional Law; Organic Law; Citizenship and Civil Rights; Elections; Criminal Law; Civil Law; Property and Contracts; Torts; Family; Corporations; Combinations and Monopolies; Procedure; Finance; Public Order; Health and Safety; Land and Waters; Transportation; Commerce and Industry; Banking; Insurance; Navigation and Waterways; Agriculture; Game and Fish; Mines and Mining; Labor; Charities; Education; Military Matters; and Local Government. This division, however convenient in practice, crosscuts the various fields of legislation as divided in any logical manner. The same criticism may be applied to a somewhat simpler

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