America’s Founders understood clearly that private property is the foundation not only of prosperity but of freedom itself. Thus, through the common law, state law, and the Constitution they protected property rights—the rights of people to freely acquire, use, and dispose of property. With the growth of modern government, however, those rights have been seriously compromised.

More on Property Rights


Property Ownership Fairness Act: Protecting Property Rights

By Christina Sandefur and Timothy Sandefur. Ricochet. February 4, 2016.

There Are No Heroes Inside the Bundy Standoff in Oregon

By Walter Olson. The Federalist. January 5, 2016.

Donald Trump’s Eminent Domain Love Nearly Cost a Widow Her House

By David Boaz. The Guardian. August 19, 2015.

Cato Studies

An Innovative Approach to Land Registration in the Developing World: Using Technology to Bypass the Bureaucracy

By Peter F. Schaefer and Clayton Schaefer. Policy Analysis No. 765. December 3, 2014.

Misallocation, Property Rights, and Access to Finance: Evidence from within and across Africa

By Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan and Bent E. Sørensen. Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 7. August 6, 2014.

Reducing Livability: How Sustainability Planning Threatens the American Dream

By Randal O’Toole. Policy Analysis No. 740. October 28, 2013.


Ending Legalized Piracy: Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

Roger Pilon and Trevor Burrus. Policy Priorities for the 114th Congress. 2015.

Judicial Takings and Scalia’s Shifting Sands

Ilya Shapiro and Trevor Burrus. Vermont Law Review. Vol. 35. No. 2. Winter 2010.

The Constitutional Protection of Property Rights: America and Europe

Roger Pilon. Economic Education Bulletin. June 2008.

Public Filings

Resource Investment, Inc. v. United States

By Mark F. Hearne, Stephen S. Davis, and Ilya Shapiro. Legal Briefs. January 19, 2016.

Arrigoni Enterprises v. Town of Durham

By Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, and Jayme Weber. Legal Briefs. December 11, 2015.

Livingston v. Frank

By Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, and Andrew H. Jones. Legal Briefs. November 6, 2015.

Cato Reviews & Journals

Master Plans and Rent Seeking

William A. Fischel. Regulation. Winter 2015-2016.

The Raisin Case

Michael W. McConnell. Supreme Court Review. 2014-2015.

The Grasping Hand

Policy Report. July/August 2015.


Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st-Century America

Featuring Timothy Sandefur, Christina Sandefur, Roger Pilon, & Trevor Burrus. February 9, 2016. Book Forum.

Property Rights Are Human Rights: Why and How Land Titles Matter to Indigenous People

Featuring Ian Vásquez. October 1, 2015. Policy Forum.

Magna Carta and the Rule of Law around the World

Featuring Ilya Shapiro, Roger Pilon, Tom G. Palmer, Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar, & Ian Vásquez. June 4, 2015. Conference.