The American Language of Rights (Ideas in Context)
Richard A. Primus
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Richard A. Primus examines three crucial periods in American history (the late eighteenth century, the Civil War and the 1950s and 1960s) and demonstrates how the conceptions of rights prevailing at each of these times grew out of opposition to concrete political cases. In the first study of its kind, Primus highlights the influence of totalitarianism (in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union) on the language of rights. This book will be a major contribution to contemporary political theory, of interest to scholars and students in politics and government, constitutional law, and American history.
See Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495 (1935); Carter v. Carter Coal Co., 298 U.S. 238 (1936); West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, 300 U.S. 379 (1937). Page 181 new view of constitutional rights that prevailed during the generation after World War II. This view has merit. Important elements of American rights certainly were
liberalfeminist or egalitarian approach — sought to apply to issues of sex basically the same principles of equality that had earlier been applied to issues of race and religion. Accordingly, it could use many of the same general arguments used for other kinds of postwar egalitarianism. The case is otherwise with respect to other approaches, such as
Dworkin says that his definition of the "persons" to whom rights can belong includes "legal persons," such as corporations, as well as natural ones.23 These two positions are not identical with the Founders' view. Like the Founders, Raz and Dworkin recognize individuals and corporate groups as valid subjects of rights. Raz and Dworkin, however, achieve that recognition by attributing personhood to the corporate group. It is still only persons, conceptually, that can bear rights; Raz and
declared that a man should have a right to wear his hat if he pleased; that he might get up when he pleased, and go to bed when he thought proper" (Annals of Congress, vol. I, pp. 731–732 (15 August 1789)). Sedgwick was not alone. In the same spirit, Noah Webster during the ratification debates facetiously proposed "That Congress shall never restrain any inhabitant (footnote continued on next page) Page 98
Maryland Constitution of 1776, Declaration of Rights, section 37. Page 122 Annapolis to trade through the town's port. It is not clear, however, what the source of a right to use the port of Annapolis might be or why so specific and pedestrian a right should merit constitutional status. In the context of reaction to the Boston Port Act, however, a simple story emerges to explain the motive behind that clause.