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United States v. Causby
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Supreme Court of the United States
Argued May 1, 1946
Decided May 27, 1946
Full case name United States v. Causby
Citations 328 U.S. 256 (more)
328 U.S. 256
Prior history 104 Ct.Cls. 342, 60 F.Supp. 751, reversed and remanded.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Douglas, joined by Reed, Frankfurter, Murphy, Rutledge
Dissent Black, Burton
Jackson took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

United States v. Causby 328 U.S. 256 (1946) was an important United States Supreme Court that held that the ancient common law doctrine of ad coelum had no legal effect "in the modern world." In the case, Causby sued the United States for trespassing on his land, complaining specifically about how fly-bys from a local airbase had frightened his chickens. They had flown into a wall and died as a result, and Causby wanted to enforce his right.



Under the common law, persons who owned real property owned "from the depths to the heavens".[1][2]

Therefore, real estate traditionally has included all rights to water, oil, gas, and other minerals underground.[1]


The United States Supreme Court held in this case that "this doctrine has no place in the modern world,"[3] at least as far as air rights are concerned,[4] but it remains as a source of law to this day, or "fundamental to property rights in land."[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Thomas Merrill, Establishing Ownership: First Possession versus Accession, p. 14, fn. 22-23, Law and Economics Workshop (University of California, Berkeley 2007 Paper 3), found at CDLib website. Retrieved September 17, 2008.
  2. ^ Cjus est solum, ejus est usque ad coelum et ad inferos. This has been translated as “To whomever the soil belongs, he owns also to the sky and the depths.” Black’s Law Dictionary (6th ed. 1990). From Merrill, fn. 22, q.v..
  3. ^ United States v. Causby, 328 U.S. 256, 261 (1942), see 328 U.S. 256 (1946). From Merrill, fn. 23, q.v..
  4. ^ The Straight Dope website. Retrieved September 17, 2008.

External links

Text of United States v. Causby is available from:  · Findlaw · Justia



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