Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council' obviously presents issues that range far more broadly than just whether people should be allowed to build on beaches and dunes. Many observers have viewed the case as a splendid opportunity for the Supreme Court to re-establish private owner autonomy in land use decisions - to cut down, perhaps drastically, on elected legislatures' traditional power to protect the environment by regulating uses of land. Behind the "property rights" debate is the question of whether states and communities really ought to have the power that they have traditionally had to control the development and patterns of growth within their bounds.
John A. Humbach, What is Behind the "Property Rights" Debate?, 10 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 21 (1992), http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/93/.