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Book Review


"The Guardian of Every Other Right: A Constitutional History of Property Rights," 10 Constitutional Commentary 238 (1993)


In this small volume James Ely puts forth a careful, wide-ranging and blessedly terse survey of the constitutional treatment of property rights over the course of American history. This is not a book of constitutional theory, nor is it a book on the theory of property rights; and although the author makes a number of interesting and informed judgments about the legal events he describes, he does not give the reader many explicit clues about the theoretical stance from which these comments emerge. Extrapolating from the text itself, Ely seems to be working from the perspective of ordinary language or ordinary understandihg. That is, he appears to be asking what most people mean by "property," and then describing the ways that our various governmental institutions treat the relevant subjects.

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