Deploying the Common Law to Quasi-Marxist Property on Mars

54 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2016

See all articles by Thomas Simmons

Thomas Simmons

University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law

Date Written: December 17, 2015


If and when the first human settlement arrives on Mars, it may be with the intention of staying on permanently. Progress and the spirit of adventure being what they are, the first group of settlers may be joined some time thereafter by a second. In anticipation of two groups of settlers on Mars who may compete over scarce suitable landscapes for sustaining the basic human needs of oxygen, energy, water, shelter and food, a framework of private property rights is necessary. In crafting possible frameworks, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty’s (OST) governing provisions regarding property law must be considered. Existing scholarship has largely failed to properly account for the application of common law precepts to realistic property disputes governed by OST provisions, to fully acknowledge the non-appropriation and common use commands of the OST, which sound, arguably, in quasi-Marxist tones, and to explicate the types of unique property demands of permanent extraterrestrial human settlements. This article maps out two basic common law frameworks for two anticipated varieties of property disputes which adhere to the general and more specific principles contained within the OST while encouraging economically efficient decision-making and sustainable uses of the planet surface.

Keywords: Outer Space Treaty, Common Law, Property

JEL Classification: K11, K33

Suggested Citation

Simmons, Thomas, Deploying the Common Law to Quasi-Marxist Property on Mars (December 17, 2015). Gonzaga Law Review, Vol. 51, No. 1, 2015/16, Available at SSRN:

Thomas Simmons (Contact Author)

University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law ( email )

414 E. Clark Street
Law School suite 212
Vermillion, SD 57069
United States
605.658.3533 (Phone)
605.677.5417 (Fax)


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