Ideology, Religion, and the Constitutional Protection of Private Property, 1760-1860
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CitationFisher, William W. "Ideology, Religion, and the Constitutional Protection of Private Property, 1760-1860," 39 Emory Law Journal 65 (1990).
AbstractIn several recent essays, legal scholars have examined the impact of popular ideologies on the substance and early interpretation of the original federal and state constitutions. 1 This Article seeks to refine that body of literature in three ways. First, drawing on work by social and intellectual historians, it argues that the political outlooks in general circulation in British North America during the Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary periods were more numerous -- and the relationships among them more complex -- than the bulk of the literature suggests. Second, it contends that the content and relative strength of those outlooks were affected by religious ideas and loyalties to a degree unappreciated by most of the legal scholars. Third, through an examination of three sets of doctrines limiting governmental interference with private property, the Article highlights the diversity of ways in which combinations of religious and political commitments impinged on constitutional law during this period.
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