Free speech has been treated as a preeminent constitutional right in the United States for more than half a century. The rights of property owners, on the other hand, have received little constitutional protection since the New Deal period of the 1930s. This modern dichotomy is particularly striking because it obscures an older constitutional tradition that equated economic liberty and freedom of expression. This tradition saw both property rights and speech rights as essential to the protection of personal freedom by restraining the power of government.
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