One legacy of the Reagan and post-Reagan years has been a questioning by both liberals and conservatives of recent eminent domain and property rights decisions by the Supreme Court. This timely volume examines the changing political and constitutional status of these concepts, Schultz argues that we need to rethink the nature of property rights by asking what purpose they serve in American society and whether they deserve special legal and judicial protection against legislative interference.
Property, Power, and American Democracy is founded on a searching reexamination of the role of property in early and contemporary American legal and political thought. From this perspective, Schultz shows that the meaning of property is currently in flux as a result of a failure to sustain those values that property was originally supposed to protect in our society: individual liberty, limited government, and minority rights.
In keeping with the moral and political values associated with property in the writings of John Locke, James Harrington, and other classical theorists, the author contends that property should not be viewed merely as a thing we possess or an entity we may dispose of at will. Instead it is to be seen as an important social relationship to which the law gives special protection thereby furthering a sense of autonomy, self-identity, and community. This volume demonstrates that once we view property in this light, we can then ask which relations or values are so important in our society that they deserve to be called property. Drawing upon both liberal and conservative points of view, Property, Power, and American Democracy is a powerful argument for the reinvigoration of property rights. It will be of special interest to political scientists, urban planners, and specialists hi American constitutional history and political thought.