Statutes of Limitations

From: D
Sent: Monday, October 07, 2019 3:28 PM
Subject: Statute of limitations

Dr. Block, I enjoy reading your email traffic on Lew Rockwell. A question for you: what is the libertarian view point or more accurately your viewpoint on the statute of limitations of living on land that was previously owned by natives and seized more than a century ago? If I am living in a house built on land that was seized violently back in the 1800’s do I have a moral obligation to return that land? Now in some ways I believe this is a lot like some black leaders advocating reparations. There is no living former slave to give reparations to. It’s the same with land once occupied by the native population isn’t it?

Thank you and best wishes, D

Dear D:

Thanks for your kind remark.

I oppose all legislative statutes of limitations. If you occupy land, or a house, that should belong to someone else, I think you have a legal and a moral obligation to give it to that person – no matter how long ago that obligation arose.

But, I also believe in a natural statute of limitations: the burden of proof is on the claimant, not you, the homeowner. And, the further back in history you go, the harder it is for the plaintiff to prove anything.

Here are my publications on this matter:

Alston and Block, 2007; Block, 1993, 2001, 2002; Block and Yeatts, 1999-2000; Crepelle and Block, 2017

Alston, Wilton D. and Walter E. Block. 2007. “Reparations, Once Again.” Human Rights Review, Vol. 9, No. 3, September, pp. 379-392;

Block, Walter E. 1993. “Malcolm X,” Fraser Forum, January, pp. 18-19;

Block, Walter E. 2001. “The Moral Dimensions of Poverty, Entitlements and Theft,” The Journal of Markets and Morality, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 83-93;;;; Search for “Walter Block” under “Authors” here:

Block, Walter E. 2002. “On Reparations to Blacks for Slavery,” Human Rights Review, Vol. 3, No. 4, July-September, pp. 53-73;;;

(David Horowitz, Randall Robinson)

Block, Walter E. and Guillermo Yeatts. 1999-2000. “The Economics and Ethics of Land Reform: A Critique of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s ‘Toward a Better Distribution of Land: The Challenge of Agrarian Reform,’” Journal of Natural Resources and Environmental Law, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 37-69;

Crepelle, Adam and Walter E. Block. 2017. “Property Rights and Freedom:  The Keys to Improving Life in Indian Country.” Washington & Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice; Vol. 23, Issue 2, Article, 3, pp. 314-342;;

Best regards,



2:16 am on October 20, 2019