Americapedia

Individual Rights

Rights are powers and privileges to which one has a just claim. The individual is the basic unit of society, and since the time of ancient republics individuals have been understood to have certain rights.

Philosophers like John Locke theorized that natural rights come from nature or from God, and are not “granted” by government. Individual rights include life, liberty, and property. The Founders believed that individual natural rights include freedom of speech, religion, and press, as well as freedom from unreasonable searches. Individual rights also encompass political, economic and civil rights. These include the right to assemble freely, to petition government, to own and use property, and to vote. All compact theories are based on the idea that individuals willingly trade some of their natural freedom, including the absolute exercise of individual rights, in exchange for the protections provided by society and government.

The Unites States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and all subsequent amendments pertain to or protect individual rights.