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This electronic book is published in a searchable PDF format as a part of the E-scholarship Repository of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. It is an “open content” casebook intended for classroom use in courses in Constitutional Law, Land Use Control, and Environmental Law and. It consists of 130 odd judicial opinions (most rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court) carefully selected from the two hundred years of American constitutional history which address the clash between public sovereignty and private property. The text considers both the personal right to liberty and the personal right in property.

The readings provide an historical context, and an up-to-date focus on many of the constitutional issues facing today’s Supreme Court: imperium versus dominium; the public trust, inverse condemnation, the navigation servitude, “regulatory takings”; “judicial takings,” the “navigability” boundary on federal power; the “public use” limitation on eminent domain; the balance between property rights and First Amendment liberties; the “essential nexus” between government prohibition and purpose; the fine line between taxation and expropriation, and; commerce power limitations on Congress’s law-making. Special attention is directed at the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision concerning the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).

The court cases in this work have been grouped into thirty seven "sessions." Most sessions consist of four or five cases, and the related statutes, if any. The materials are intended to be economically, politically and legally evocative and to provide an assignment appropriate for a class hour of discussion. The text consists of non-copyrighted material and readers are free to use or re-mix it in whole or part. The tightly-edited cases may be readily borrowed for use in other courses. No rights are reserved.

Publication Date



Baltimore, MD


constitutional law, environmental law, land use, real property, property rights, public domain, commerce power, federalism, natural resources, coastal resources, wetlands, public trust, navigability, eminent domain, just compensation, regulatory takings, judicial takings, exactions, public forums


Constitutional Law | Environmental Law | Land Use Law | Natural Resources Law | Water Law

Constitutional Limitations on Land Use Controls, Environmental Regulations and Governmental Exactions, 2013 edition