Hofstra Law Review


Deconstruction is a method for exposing hidden assumptions, that which is taken for granted, unquestioned. This Article draws on this method first to explain how the right to property, as understood by the Framers, became the hidden, unquestioned assumption of the Bill of Rights. Second, this Article draws on deconstruction to "unpack" the right to property to reveal the lesser-subsumed economic rights it takes for granted. It argues that the right to property and economic rights are iterations of the same rights, from the perspectives of the "haves" and the "have-nots," respectively. Recent work by women's historians makes it possible to use late eighteenth century women, one of the most conspicuously neglected groups of have-nots at the time, as a case study. This analysis shows how the denial of economic rights by culture and social custom, as well as by law, progressively distances civil and political rights. Ultimately, the denial of economic rights makes the legal proscription of civil and political rights unnecessary because, as a practical matter, these rights become unimaginable.

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