Right

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Right

In an abstract sense, justice, ethical correctness, or harmony with the rules of law or the principles of morals. In a concrete legal sense, a power, privilege, demand, or claim possessed by a particular person by virtue of law.

Each legal right that an individual possesses relates to a corresponding legal duty imposed on another. For example, when a person owns a home and property, he has the right to possess and enjoy it free from the interference of others, who are under a corresponding duty not to interfere with the owner's rights by trespassing on the property or breaking into the home.

In Constitutional Law, rights are classified as natural, civil, and political. Natural rights are those that are believed to grow out of the nature of the individual human being and depend on her personality, such as the rights to life, liberty, privacy, and the pursuit of happiness.

Civil Rights are those that belong to every citizen of the state, and are not connected with the organization or administration of government. They include the rights of property, marriage, protection by law, freedom to contract, trial by jury, and the like. These rights are capable of being enforced or redressed in a civil action in a court.

Political rights entail the power to participate directly or indirectly in the establishment or administration of government, such as the right of citizenship, the right to vote, and the right to hold public office.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

right

1) n. an entitlement to something, whether to concepts like justice and due process, or to ownership of property or some interest in property, real or personal. These rights include various freedoms, protection against interference with enjoyment of life and property, civil rights enjoyed by citizens such as voting and access to the courts, natural rights accepted by civilized societies, human rights to protect people throughout the world from terror, torture, barbaric practices and deprivation of civil rights and profit from their labor, and such American constitutional guarantees as the right to freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition. 2) adj. just, fair, correct. (See: civil rights, marital rights)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

RIGHT. This word is used in various senses: 1. Sometimes it signifies a law, as when we say that natural right requires us to keep our promises, or that it commands restitution, or that it forbids murder. In our language it is seldom used in this sense. 2. It sometimes means that quality in our actions by which they are denominated just ones. This is usually denominated rectitude. 3. It is that quality in a person by which he can do certain actions, or possess certain things which belong to him by virtue of some title. In this sense, we use it when we say that a man has a right to his estate or a right to defend himself. Ruth, Inst. c. 2, Sec. 1, 2, 3; Merlin,; Repert. de Jurisp. mot Droit. See Wood's Inst. 119.
     2. In this latter sense alone, will this word be here considered. Right is the correlative of duty, for, wherever one has a right due to him, some other must owe him a duty. 1 Toull. n. 96.
     3. Rights are perfect and imperfect. When the things which we have a right to possess or the actions we have a right to do, are or may be fixed and determinate, the right is a perfect one; but when the thing or the actions are vague and indeterminate, the right is an imperfect one. If a man demand his property, which is withheld from him, the right that supports his demand is a perfect one; because the thing demanded is, or may be fixed and determinate.
     4. But if a poor man ask relief from those from whom he has reason to expect it, the right, which supports his petition, is an imperfect one; because the relief which he expects, is a vague indeterminate, thing. Ruth. Inst. c. 2, Sec. 4; Grot. lib. 1, c. Sec. 4.
     5. Rights are also absolute and qualified. A man has an absolute right to recover property which belongs to him; an agent has a qualified right to recover such property, when it had been entrusted to his care, and which has been unlawfully taken out of his possession. Vide Trover.
     6. Rights might with propriety be also divided into natural and civil rights but as all the rights which man has received from nature have been modified and acquired anew from the civil law, it is more proper, when considering their object, to divide them into political and civil rights.
     7. Political rights consist in the power to participate, directly or indirectly, in the establishment or management of government. These political rights are fixed by the constitution. Every citizen has the right of voting for public officers, and of being elected; these are the political rights which the humblest citizen possesses.
     8. Civil rights are those which have no relation to the establishment, support, or management of the government. These consist in the power of acquiring and enjoying property, of exercising the paternal and marital powers, and the like. It will be observed that every one, unless deprived of them by a sentence of civil death, is in the enjoyment of his civil rights, which is not the case with political rights; for an alien, for example, has no political, although in the full enjoyment of his civil rights.
     9. These latter rights are divided into absolute and relative. The absolute rights of mankind may be reduced to three principal or primary articles: the right of personal security, which consists in a person's legal and uninterrupted enjoyment of his life, his limbs, his body, his health, and his reputation; the right of personal liberty, which consists in the power of locomotion, of changing situation, or removing one's person to whatsoever place one's inclination may direct, without any restraint, unless by due course of law; the right of property, which consists in the free use, enjoyment, and disposal of all his acquisitions, without any control or diminution, save only by the laws of the land. 1 Bl. 124 to 139.
    10. The relative rights are public or private: the first are those which subsist between the people and the government, as the right of protection on the part of the people, and the right of allegiance which is due by the people to the government; the second are the reciprocal rights of husband and wife, parent and child, guardian and ward, and master and servant.
    11. Rights are also divided into legal and equitable. The former are those where the party has the legal title to a thing, and in that case, his remedy for an infringement of it, is by an action in a court of law. Although the person holding the legal title may have no actual interest, but hold only as trustee, the suit must be in his name, and not in general, in that of the cestui que trust. 1 East, 497 8 T. R. 332; 1 Saund. 158, n. 1; 2 Bing. 20. The latter, or equitable rights, are those which may be enforced in a court of equity by the cestui que trust. See, generally, Bouv. Ins t. Index, h.t. Remedy.

RIGHT, WRIT OF. Breve de recto. Vide Writ of light.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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