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Thank you for a great AU 2017! - Acton University 2018: June 19 - 22

Vested Private Rights: The Foundation of American Constitutionalism

Session 7
Advanced Course

Joseph Story, one of America's greatest jurists, insisted that "no State government can be presumed to possess the transcendental sovereignty to take away vested rights of property." For more than a century from the Founding, lawyers and jurists recognized this doctrine of vested private rights as the basic doctrine of American constitutionalism. Many state constitutions, and some provisions of the Constitution of the United States, continue to protect vested rights against retrospective abrogation. Yet today, states are widely assumed to have the power to redefine or even abrogate vested property rights by regulating private property. This lecture will explain the basic doctrine of vested rights, examine what has gone wrong, and suggest areas of the law where this foundation of ordered liberty can be restored.

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