The American Founders held the view that the right to property is a natural right possessed by all human beings and that the fundamental purpose of the Constitution is to secure the natural rights of all American citizens. For many decades after the Founding, the U.S. Supreme Court remained faithful to this purpose. Beginning in the late 19th century, the Supreme Court embraced the doctrine of substantive due process, which gradually undermined the Founders’ understanding of property rights.
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Paul Moreno is the William and Berniece Grewcock Professor in Constitutional History at Hillsdale College. He received his B.A. from the State University of New York and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland at College Park.