Who Owns the Skies? Ad Coelum, Property Rights, and State Sovereignty

Eyes to the Sky: Privacy and Commerce in the Age of the Drone (Matthew Feeney ed., Cato Institute, forthcoming August 2021). 2021. Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. 2369.

Posted: 12 Apr 2021

See all articles by Laura Donohue

Laura Donohue

Georgetown University Law Center

Date Written: April 9, 2021

Abstract

In light of the history of the doctrine of ad coelum, as well as the states’ preeminent role (secured by the Tenth Amendment) in regulating property and airspace up to the 500-foot level, it is remarkable that the federal government has begun to claim that it controls everything above the blades of grass. This chapter challenges those statements, demonstrating that history and law establish that property owners, and the states, control the airspace adjacent to the land.

Keywords: national security law, property rights, air and space law, ad coelum, english common law, legal history, state sovereignty

Suggested Citation

Donohue, Laura, Who Owns the Skies? Ad Coelum, Property Rights, and State Sovereignty (April 9, 2021). Eyes to the Sky: Privacy and Commerce in the Age of the Drone (Matthew Feeney ed., Cato Institute, forthcoming August 2021). 2021. Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. 2369., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3823362

Laura Donohue (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

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202 662-9282 (Fax)

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