Did the United States test an anti-satellite weapon when it shot down an out-of-control spy satellite earlier this month? Or was it a precautionary measure to protect people on the ground who might have been hit with a fuel tank filled with a poisonous gas?
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty designated space for peaceful purposes as the province of all mankind. Virtually all spacefaring nations now favor a new treaty to accommodate major changes in geopolitics and military technology. The United States, however, has blocked negotiations, citing potential threats to U.S. rights, capabilities, and freedom of action.
In June 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kelo v. New London that local governments may force property owners to sell out and to make way for private economic development, even if the property is not blighted. In response, many states have passed legislation and proposed amendments to their state constitutions to block this unprecedented government assault on the rights of property owners.
In this lecture from 1987, Robert Higgs speaks about governments' tendency to bend or suspend individual rights during emergency situations. He reviews the history of this in the United States and questions whether the U.S. Constitution is strong enough to protect private rights in the face of an unending string of national crises.