Property Rights

Rights and Liberties under the Law

by Polly J. Price


The right of individuals to own property is one of the cornerstones of our Constitution. But could the founding fathers have anticipated that this right would be extended to a person's creativity, or even their biological makeup? What about property rights on the Internet? This book will show readers how America's unique and complicated property laws came about.

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Cover image for Property Rights

June 2003


Pages 321
Volumes 1
Size 6x9
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/Human Rights and Civil Liberties
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    Hardcover: £58.00/69,00€/A$100.00

A survey of the evolution of property rights in the United States—from constitutional protections and due process to private property rights and government-takings doctrines.

Legal opinions and public attitudes toward property rights have fluctuated over the years, from periods when almost any infringement of these rights was impermissible, to times in which the government was granted much wider latitude. This book examines the history of individual property ownership in the U.S. from the late colonial era to the present, explaining how property rights were established, defended, and sometimes later reinterpreted. Of special interest are rights that have developed over time, such as due process, just compensation for government "takings" of private property, and the rights landowners may assert against other persons.

Of particular interest to today's readers are government regulation of private property for environmental purposes, challenges to zoning regulations, and intellectual property rights in cyberspace.


  • Alphabetical list of key people, cases, events, judicial decisions, statutes, and terms that are central to an understanding of property rights in the United States
  • Reprints of key materials including constitutional provisions, excerpts from court rulings, and statutes


  • Highlights the crucial role of the courts in defining and enforcing private property rights
  • Covers recent developments in environmental land use, intellectual property, and biotechnology
  • Explores the interaction between the constitutional concepts of due process and the takings clause
Author Info

Polly J. Price is professor of law at Emory University, Atlanta, GA.



"This is a great and easy-to-read overview of what property is; it will be a suitable addition to collections on land use, law, and property rights. Highly recommended. All levels."—Choice

"This book provides a history of major debates concerning the constitutional status of property rights through the decisions of the United States Supreme Court. Providing a chronological sequence of topics and events, Price explains concepts and cases clearly and succinctly within the context of a historical essay . . . Aimed for a general audience, the book is suitable for high school, junior college, and freshman and sophomore college students in addition to the general public."—American Reference Books Annual

Other Titles of Interest

Freedom of the Press cover imageRight to Counsel and Privilege against Self-Incrimination cover imageThe Right to Vote cover image
Freedom of Association cover imageEqual Protection cover imageThe Right to Privacy cover image

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