Rights Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Rights, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Rights?

(n) Rights are the protection against interruption by others, entitling the rights holder to enjoy such privileges associated with such rights without manmade or social disturbances. For example a rights to practice religion, rights to express opinion, rights to inherit ancestral properties etc.

History and Meaning of Rights

The concept of rights has been around since ancient times, but it wasn't until the Enlightenment era of the 18th century that it gained significant traction in the Western world. The idea that individuals have inherent rights that cannot be taken away by the government or other individuals was a radical departure from the prevailing belief in divine right monarchy. Today, the concept of rights is central to modern democracy and human rights movements around the world.

In legal terms, rights refer to the protections and freedoms that a person is entitled to. These can be civil, political, economic, social, or cultural in nature. Some examples of rights include the right to free speech, the right to a fair trial, and the right to own property. Rights are often enshrined in laws and constitutions to ensure that they are protected and upheld.

Examples of Rights

  1. The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition. This means that individuals are free to express their opinions, practice their religion, and gather with others for peaceful purposes without interference from the government.
  2. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes that all people have the right to life, liberty, and security of person. This means that governments cannot deprive individuals of their basic human rights without just cause.
  3. The right to a fair trial is a fundamental right in many legal systems around the world. This means that individuals have the right to be heard by an impartial judge or jury, to have access to legal representation, and to be protected from self-incrimination.

Legal Terms Similar to Rights

  1. Freedoms - Similar to rights, freedoms refer to the liberties that individuals enjoy and are protected from government interference.
  2. Entitlements - This term refers to the benefits or privileges that individuals are entitled to by law, such as government benefits or employment benefits.
  3. Human Rights - These are the inherent rights that are recognized by international law and are protected by governments to ensure that individuals are treated fairly and justly.