The Constitution defines our rights, but what happens when people view their rights as more important than the rights of minorities?How does government maintain democracy when it tries to regulate...

The Constitution defines our rights, but what happens when people view their rights as more important than the rights of minorities?

How does government maintain democracy when it tries to regulate the rights of the people.

Asked on by britt1310

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Any constitutional scholar will tell you that the rights guaranteed under the constitution are not absolute; they must be balanced against the rights of others. This limitation was eloquently expressed by Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. when he wrote

The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins.

Again, in Schenck vs. United States, Chief Justice Holmes wrote:

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.

One may claim freedom of religion; but this claim would not allow one to conduct odious acts such as human sacrifice. Similarly, freedom of speech would not allow one to utter libelous or threatening statements.

So under any interpretation, the most stringent claim of constitutional rights must be balanced against the rights of others, including minorities.

Sources:

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