Two first year courses at most law schools. As with most law school subjects, you don’t get into a lot of depth. The professor peppers you with strange problems, like the rule against perpetuities or the battle of the forms.
I’ve been thinking about a more fundamental aspect of the two subjects lately, though. In New York, and I’m sure most other places, the law provides that a money judgment becomes a lien against the real property of the judgment debtor. Put another way, if you are alleged to owe someone money and they get a judgment against you for it, then they automatically, by operation of law, have a claim – a “lien” – against any land you own in the state. Liens can be “foreclosed”: that is, the property against which the lien exists can be sold to “satisfy” the judgment.
Here’s the thought: the constitution has a special place of honor for the “right to property” but no such favor is given to contract rights. Yet someone else’s contract right can trump your right to property.
This doesn’t seem right, does it?
I sometimes think that the legal regime suffers from too little appreciation for the importance of property rights, not too much.