Human Rights Nonsense (25): Reductio of Private Property Rights

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freedom / human rights nonsense / law
Banksy No Trespassing

Banksy, No Trespassing


In the case of Hinman vs. Pacific Air Transport, a landowner, Hinman, sued an airline (Pacific Air) for trespass. Hinman wanted Circuit Judge Haney’s court to affirm his right to stop airlines from flying over his property. … The judge … realized that giving every landowner a right to treat air traffic as a trespass would throttle air traffic, because the cost of an airline buying off every potential veto would be prohibitive.

The plaintiff’s unsuccessful suit relied heavily on the concept of ad coelum, an ancient Roman dictum that “he who owns the soil owns it to the heavens.” Was ad coelum relevant to questions about airplanes crossing over someone’s land at high altitude? Before the advent of air travel, there was no fact of the matter. No legal dispute had ever brought the issue to a head. (source)

Just to show that a lot of nonsensical talk about human rights stems from an erroneously absolutist understanding of those rights. More harmful examples of this kind of absolutism are here and here.

More about property rights is here; more posts in this series are here.

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