09 Jun


Black’s Law 8th Edition: liberty. 1. Freedom from arbitrary or undue external restraint, esp. by a government <give me liberty or give me death>.2. A right, privilege, or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant; the absence of a legal duty imposed on a person <the liberties protected by the Constitution>. [Cases: Constitutional Law 83, 254.1. C.J.S. Constitutional Law §§ 472, 511, 977–978, 980, 1418; Right to Die§ 2.]
“[Liberty] denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399, 43 S.Ct. 625, 626 (1923).
“The sphere of my legal liberty is that sphere of activity within which the law is content to leave me alone.” John Salmond, Jurisprudence 239 (Glanville L. Williams ed., 10th ed. 1947).
“The word liberty has become a symbol around which have clung some of the most generous human emotions. We have been brought up to thrill with admiration at the men who say, Give me liberty or give me death. But the philosopher asks whether all those who are devoted to liberty mean the same thing. Does liberty or freedom, for instance, involve free trade? Does it involve freedom to preach race hatred or the overthrow of all that we regard as sacred? Many who believe in liberty characterize the freedom which they are not willing to grant, as license, and they do it so often that one may be inclined to think that what we really need is less liberty and more license.
Moreover, there is a confusion between the absence of legal restraint and the presence of real freedom as positive power to do what we want. The legal freedom to earn a million dollars is not worth a cent to one who has no real opportunity. It is fashionable to assert that men want freedom above all other things, but a strong case may be made out for the direct contrary. Absolute freedom is just what people do not want ….” Morris R. Cohen, Reason and Law 101–02 (1961).

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