Cultural Revolutions

Public Trust Doctrine

Public trust doctrine is the latest rage among law professors with a radical agenda. It challenges private ownership of natural resources and believes the state has the right to claim title to those resources in the name of the people. As Professor Robert I. Reis at the University of Buffalo School of Law notes, this elastic doctrine, though it begrudgingly acknowledges private property rights, also points toward their elimination; "It might be said that as the public trust doctrine expands to include contemporary environmental and social interests within the scope of its purview, the correlative private rights or future privatization of rights would be precluded or significantly diminished." (Italics added.)

Professor Reis compares this doctrine to navigational servitude cases, in which public trust property is "not protected against a taking [by the state]." In the interest of protecting the environment, a landowner's right to just compensation for property offered under the due process clause could therefore be dismissed, since "the right of the people to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of national and natural resource treasures as trusts for the People" transcends private property guarantees. Here in shameless fashion is an attack on the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and its provision that life, liberty, and property cannot be denied without due process.

What Reis...

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