Intergenerational Justice in the United States Constitution,
The Stewardship Doctrine:
I. Historic Overview

D. Algernon Sidney and John Locke

John Locke - page 3

". . .[T]hough [the state of nature] be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of license; though man in that state have an uncontrollable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions, yet he has not liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any creature in his possession, but where some nobler use than its bare preservation calls for it. The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one. . ." f73

Locke demands that an appropriate balance be struck between legitimate preservation interests and legitimate development interests. During Locke's tenure on the planet, when there seemed to be no end to the abundance of land and natural resources, f74 it conceivably made sense to encourage maximum development. By contrast, in the present day, when so many natural resources and species have been exploited to the brink of extinction, it is over-utilization which more often constitutes mismanagement, f75 and it is therefore over-development and over-utilization that Locke's doctrine would now most often condemn, since those practices, in the present context, constitute "destruction, spoilage, and waste." f76

In the same paragraph of the Second Treatise quoted above (paragraph 6), Locke makes his famous assertion that "Reason . . . teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that, being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possession.." This passage is one of the primary sources for the best known language in the Declaration of Independence, f77 and for the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment, f78 and therefore warrants special attention. Read in toto, paragraph 6 indicates that, in Locke's view, these inviolable personal liberties and property rights are, from their inception, subject to restraints against spoilage and destruction. In other words, while no individual in society ought to be wrongfully deprived of life, liberty, or possessions, those rights never extend so far as to include spoilage or destruction of the natural world, especially if that destruction could constitute a threat to preservation of the human species. This principle applies to governments as well as to individuals. f79 Any "takings" doctrine based upon the founders' original intent must take this philosophic background into account.

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