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1992

Property Law and Real Estate

Columbia Law School

Michigan Law Review

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Zero-Sum Madison, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 1992

Zero-Sum Madison, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

Has the fabric of American constitutional law been permanently "distorted" by the Framers' preoccupation with protecting private property against redistribution? Jennifer Nedelsky thinks so. In this provocative study of how the idea of property shaped the political thought of the Framers and the institutions they designed, she argues that James Madison's constitutional philosophy was driven by fear that a future propertyless majority would seek to expropriate the holdings of a minority. To combat this danger, Madison sought to create a structure of government that would ensure the dominance of the propertied elite. Madison's obsessive fear of redistribution spread ...