Rights, Liberties, Freedoms

C. J. Friedrich
1942 University of Pennsylvania Law Review and American Law Register  
Bills of rights, civil liberties, human freedoms-they all are attempts to state and describe in broad outline the general principles that are to govern the relation between the individual and the community, i. e., the government. The forms in which this has been done are very numerous. Their bearing upon an emerging federalism is evidently of the very greatest importance. 1 While it is still customary to talk of a "bill of rights" actually this terminology is definitely out of date. In the i8th
more » ... f date. In the i8th century, rights were thought of as "immutable", "inalienable", "natural". The idea of such individual rights was part of the cult of rationalism and individualism which characterized the "Heavenly City of the eighteenth century philosophers". 2 In the course of the nineteenth century it became increasingly clear that such rights were not something absolute and unchangeable. As the rationalist beliefs of the I8th century appeared more and more in historical perspective, rights were seen as constitutionally created and guaranteed. They varied from time to time and from country to country. Amendments to the American and other constitutions brought home to all who were blinded by dogmatic prejudice that these "rights" ' were really "civil liberties"-a constitutionally guaranteed and reserved sphere of individual liberty. But even this concept in turn declined. The constitution became the bulwark of vested interests; progressive forces looked for a symbol which would indicate their preoccupation with the needs of the working man, rather than the requirements of the economically privileged. It became a matter of freedom for the individual to be an equal member of the community. To these three stages in the evolution of thought on the subject of the relation of the individual to the community and its government correspond significant shifts in emphasis as to what is most important for the individual. In the period in which natural rights were the forms of interest, property was seen as the key to the individual's independence. It was felt by Locke and the whole movement of which he t
doi:10.2307/3309284 fatcat:b2px4gcqvvel3hhivoxigjy3n4