Limiting Rights


Limiting Rights Essay, Research Paper

Government is justifiable in limiting the rights of the people it governs for the welfare of the group, and even themselves (the people). If people has use of their absolute rights, meaning they were allowed to do anything because they have the right to do anything they choose, rights of other people would be infringed on. Chaos would be the order without government. People gave the government the power to do this by creating a social contract, an agreement to be governed by a government which in turn will protect the rights of the individuals who created it. In order to protect the natural rights of the

people, there must be a limit on what people can do (people have the “right” to do anything they want). Even first amendment rights can be taken away if it is necessary.

Without the existence of government, man would exist in a state of utter and

constant chaos. There would be no order if there was no agreement between a governing body and the people it is set up to govern. Without government, Social Darwinism, or natural selection, would take place, and only the strongest and fittest would survive. Without a social contract, a person would be allowed to do whatever they desired to do. For example, crimes such as murder, robbery, and rape, which in todays world are completely outlawed, would be common if there was no written document or governing group that says these actions are “illegal”. In modern society, of course, such actions would never be tolerated. Laws are established which forbid such heinous crimes as murder, sexual crimes, and robbery. “In the absence of a social contract any action on the part of an individual may be justified. Government, which creates laws, is the limits the

rights of the individual, taking away their use of absolute rights, while making sure their natural rights are fully protected.” (Narch, 5).

In order to keep order, people give up their use of absolute rights for the welfare of the entire group, and in fact to protect themselves from having their rights infringed on. A social contract is the agreement between the government, and the people that it governs. The people agree to give up certain rights (use of absolute rights); the government in turn agrees to protect the natural rights of each and every individual. If everyone had use of their absolute rights, they would be infringing on someone else’s rights. For example, if everyone had the use of their absolute rights (no government), they would be able to kill someone else, but this would be infringing on someone else’s natural rights. Government is created to limit the rights of people, so people can’t go around

infringing on other peoples rights, while government maintains the natural rights that every person is born with. “This social contract defines and regulates the relations among the members of society and between the individual and the governing authority.” (Fand, 6).

One group cannot created a social contract. Two groups must agree to have a

social contract, with one protecting the rights of the other. In the United States, the people agreed to let the government govern them, while the government agreed to protect the people’s natural rights. The people have the right to break their part of the agreement if they feel their rights are being violated by the government it created. By limiting the rights of the people, government can be maintained because people won’t be infringing on the rights of other people freely or legally. “Man has the right to revolt if their rights are being infringed on by the government or people who the government governs. The government, by limiting the rights of the individuals it governs, doesn’t allow for the rights of individuals to be infringed upon by otherpeople.” (Lestley, 9)

In the United States, citizens have agreed to give up certain rights so long as the government agrees to protect a specific set of natural rights. The Supreme Court, the protector of the Constitution, has ruled that government is allowed to limit rights of individuals guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and in the Constitution. The supreme court states in the case of Schenck vs. the United States in 1919, that the first amendment may be dismissed if there is a “clear and present danger”. Thus, the Supreme Court states that the government is allowed to limit rights, and even first amendment rights. Although the

first amendment guarantees the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, basic principles in which the United States was founded, none of these rights are unconditionally guaranteed. This is why the government (court system), is allowed to sentence the death penalty in cases where people have been murdered (state laws state which crimes can be the death penalty can be used in). The government can do this because the criminal infringed upon someone else’s right to life. “Even the basic rights, the first amendment rights, can be limited by the government if people infringe on the natural

rights of other people.” (Fand, 3)

It is justifiable for a government to limit the rights of the individual for the good of the whole group. If people had full use of rights (absolute use of rights or absolute rights), they would be infringing on the rights of the people around them. Government, limits the rights of the people in order to make sure that everyone has the rights they were born with, or natural rights. If the government didn’t do this, there would be nothing but chaos, where only the strong would survive. The government is even given the power to take away first amendment rights when necessary, which has been checked by the Supreme Court.

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