Property Rights and the Constitution

Shaping Society Through Land Use Regulation

By Dennis J. Coyle

Subjects: Legal Studies
Series: SUNY series in The Constitution and Economic Rights
Paperback : 9780791414446, 382 pages, July 1993
Hardcover : 9780791414439, 382 pages, July 1993

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Table of contents



Part I: Landowner Rights and Political Culture

1. Why Land Use Rights?

2. Land Use and Culture

3. The Demise of Landowner Rights

Part II: Landowner Rights in State and Nation

4. Cultural Conflict in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

5. California: Where Deference Reigns Supreme

6. The United States Supreme Court: Hesitant Steps toward the Protection of Landowner Rights

Part III: The Future of Landowner Rights and Regulation

7. Feudalism and Liberalism

8. Land, Culture, and the Constitution

Part IV: Appendixes

A. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Constitutional Land Use Cases and New Jersey Exclusionary Cases

B. California Supreme Court Constitutional Land Use Cases

C. United States Supreme Court Constitutional Land Use Cases





Controversies over public regulation of private land have dominated political agendas in recent years, especially at the local level. Land use and environmental regulation have reached unprecedented levels, and federal and state courts have garnered recent headlines by striking down regulations. Rights and regulations are on a collision course, and how they are reconciled will have a major impact on individuals, governments, and communities in the decades ahead. This book is the first systematic attempt to assess key constitutional developments in the land use field during the last decade in state and federal supreme courts. It highlights important trends, including the growing role of state supreme courts, attacks on regulation as exclusionary, and the emergence of the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment as a potentially major limitation on governmental power.

Dennis J. Coyle is Assistant Professor of Politics at The Catholic University of America. He has been a newspaper editor, reporter, and editorial writer, and has published commentaries in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and The Oakland Tribune.


"Coyle focuses attention on two much-neglected elements in discussions of property rights under the Constitution: How capacious is the concept of property rights, and what is going on in the state courts regarding property rights broadly conceived. He has done a splendid job of selecting the state court jurisdictions to be examined, focusing on three leading jurisdictions that other high courts follow and that depart from each other in judicial philosophy with respect to property rights. This one is a winner!" — Ellen Frankel Paul, Deputy Director of the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, Bowling Green State University

"This is one of a very few studies on the subject and is distinguished by its combination of detailed legal scholarship and theoretical depth. " — John N. Gray, Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University