CITES BY TOPIC:  liberty

The Philosophy of Liberty-EXCELLENT! 

Liberty:  Your Right to Make a Living-Jim Carter

16 Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S.), Constitutional Law, §202, p.987

"Personal liberty, or the Right to enjoyment of life and liberty, is one of the fundamental or natural Rights, which has been protected by its inclusion as a guarantee in the various constitutions, which is not derived from, or dependent on, the U.S. Constitution, which may not be submitted to a vote and may not depend on the outcome of an election. It is one of the most sacred and valuable Rights, as sacred as the Right to private property ... and is regarded as inalienable."

Bouvier's Law Dictionary (1856)

LIBERTY - (Lat. liber, free; libertas, freedom, liberty). Freedom from restraint. The faculty of willing, and the power of doing what has been willed, without influence from without. -

Maxwell v. Dow, 176 U.S. 581, 617 (1900):

"Liberty, it has been well said, depends, not so much upon the absence of actual oppression, as on the existence of Constitutional checks upon the power to oppress.  These checks should not be destroyed or impaired by judicial decisions." 

[Maxwell v. Dow, 176 U.S. 581, 617 (1900]

Congress and the Constitution, The Nation, p. 214, 1895:

"Unrestricted power of taxation is the greatest power over accumulated wealth, manufacturers, industry, and personal freedom which any government can have; for liberty, as Hampden found out, cannot be worth much to a man who may be taxed in any way some other man pleases." 

[Congress and the Constitution, The Nation, p. 214, March 21, 1895]

Black's Law Dictionary, Revised Fourth Edition, 1968, pp. 1064-1066

liberty.  Freedom; exemption from extraneous control.

Freedom from all restraints except such as are justly imposed by law [cite omitted.]  Freedom from restraint under conditions essential to the equal enjoyment of the same right by others; freedom regulated by law.  [cite omitted.]  The absence of arbitrary restraint, not immunity from reasonable regulations and prohibitions imposed in the interests of the community. [Cites omitted.]

The power of the will to follow the dictates of the unrestricted choice, and to direct the external acts of the individual without restraint, coercion, or control from other persons. [Cite omitted.]

The word "liberty" includes and comprehends all personal rights and their enjoyment.  [Cite omitted.]  It embraces freedom from duress, [cite omitted];  freedom from government interference in exercise of intellect, in formation of opinions, in the expression of them, and in action or inaction dictated by the judgment, Zavilla v. Masse, 112 Colo. 183, 147 P.2d 823, 827; freedom from servitude, imprisonment or restraint, [cites omitted]; freedom in enjoyment and use of all of one's powers, faculties and property, [cites omitted]; freedom of assembly, [cite omitted]; freedom of citizen from banishment, [cite omitted]; freedom of conscience, [cite omitted]; freedom of contract, [cites omitted]; freedom of locomotion or movement, Commonwealth v. Doe, Organization v. Hague, D.C.N.J., 25 F.Supp. 127, 131, 141; freedom of occupation, [cite omitted]; freedom of press, [cites omitted]; freedom of religion, [cites omitted]; freedom of speech, [cites omitted].  It also embraces right of self-defense against unlawful violence, Rohrer v. Mild COntrol Board, 121 Pa.Super. 281, 184 A. 133, 136; right to acquire and enjoy property, Rohrer v. Milk Control Board, 121 Pa.Super. 281, 184 A.133, 136; right to acquire useful knowledge, [cite omitted]; right to carry on business, [cite omitted]; right to earn livelihood in any lawful calling.  [cite omitted]; right to emigrate, and if a citizen, to return, [cite omitted]; right to engage in lawful business, to determine the price of one's labor, and to fix the hours when one's place of business shall be kept open, [cite omitted]; the right to enjoy to the fullest extent the privileges and immunities given or assured by law to people living within the country, [cite omitted]; right to forswear allegiance and expatriate oneself, [cite omitted]; right to freely buy and sell as others may, [cite omitted]; right to labor, [cite omitted]; right to marry and have a family, [cites omitted]; right to pursue chosen calling, [cites omitted]; right to use property according owner's will, State Bank & Trust Co. v. Village of Williamette, 358 Ill. 311, 193 N.E. 131, 133, 96 A.L.R. 1327.

Liberty on its positive side, denotes the fullness of individual existence; on its negative side it denotes the necessary restraint on all, which is needed to promote the greatest possible amount of liberty for each.  Amos, Science of Law, p. 90.

The "personal liberty" guaranteed by the Const. U.S. Amend.  13 consists in the power of locomotion without imprisonment or restraint unless by due course of law, except those restraints imposed to prevent commission of threatened crime or in punishment of crime committed, those in punishment of contempts of courts or legislative bodies or to render their jurisdiction effectual, and those necessary to enforce the duty citizens owe in defense of the state to protect community against acts of those who by reason of mental infirmity are incapable of self-control. [cite omitted]

"Civil liberty"

"the liberty of a member of society, being a man's natural liberty, so far restrained by human laws (and no further) as is necessary and expedient for the general advantage of the public. [cite omitted]

The power of doing whatever the laws permit.  [cites omitted.]  The greatest amount of absolute liberty which can, in the nature of things, be equally possessed by every citizen in a state.  Guaranteed protection against interference with the interests and rights held dear and important by large classes of civilized men, or by all the members of a state, together with an effectual share in the making and administration of the laws, as the best apparatus to secure that protection. [cite omitted]

"Natural Liberty"

The power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, unless by the law of nature. [cite omitted.}

The right which nature gives to all mankind of disposing of their persons and property after the manner they judge most consistent with their happiness, on condition of their acting with an equal exercise of the same rights by other men.  [cites omitted.]  It is called by Lieber social liberty, and is defined as the protection or unrestrained action in as high a degree as the same claim of protectin of each individual admits of.

"Personal Liberty"

The right or power of locomotion; of changing situation, or moving one's person to whatever place one's own inclination may direct, without imprisonment or restraint, unless by due course of law. [cites omitted.]

"Political liberty"

Liberty of the citizen to participate in the operations of government, and particularly in the making and administration of the laws."

[Black's Law Dictionary, Revised Fourth Edition, 1968, pp. 1064-1066]

Coppage v. State of Kansas, 236 U.S. 1 (1915):

"Included in the rights of personal liberty and the right of private property--partaking of the nature of each--is the right to make contracts for the acquisition of property.  Chief among such contracts is that of personal employment, by which labor and other services are exchanged for money or other forms of property."

"...The right of a person to sell his labor upon such terms as he deems proper is, in its essence, the same as the right of the purchaser of labor to prescribe the conditions under which he will accept such labor from the person offering to sell it."

[Coppage v. State of Kansas, 236 U.S. 1 (1915)]

Meyer v. State of Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923):

While this court has not attempted to define with exactness the liberty thus guaranteed, the term has received much consideration and some of the included things have been definitely stated. Without doubt, it 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. Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36; Butchers' Union Co. v. Crescent City Co ., 111 U.S. 746 , 4 Sup. Ct. 652; Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 , 6 Sup. Ct. 1064; Minnesota v. Bar er, 136 U.S. 313 , 10 Sup. Ct. 862; Allgeyer v. Louisiana, 165 U.S. 578 , 17 Sup. Ct. 427; Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 , 25 Sup. Ct. 539, 3 Ann. Cas. 1133; Twining v. New Jersey 211 U.S. 78 , 29 Sup. Ct. 14; Chicago, B. & Q. R. R. v. McGuire, 219 U.S. 549 , 31 Sup. Ct. 259; Truax v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33 , 36 Sup. Ct. 7, L. R. A. 1916D, 545, Ann. Cas. 1917B, 283; Adams v. Tanner, 224 U.S. 590 , 37 Sup. Ct. 662, L. R. A. 1917F, 1163, Ann. Cas. 1917D, 973; New York Life Ins. Co. v. Dodge, 246 U.S. 357 , 38 Sup. Ct. 337, Ann. Cas. 1918E, 593; Truax v. Corrigan, 257 U.S. 312 , 42 Sup. Ct. 124; Adkins v. Children's Hospital (April 9, 1923), 261 U.S. 525 , 43 Sup. Ct. 394, 67 L. Ed. --; Wyeth v. Cambridge Board of Health, 200 Mass. 474, 86 N. E. 925, 128 Am. St. Rep. 439, 23 L. R. A. (N. S.) 147. The established doctrine is that this liberty may not be interfered [262 U.S. 390, 400]   with, under the guise of protecting the public interest, by legislative action which is arbitrary or without reasonable relation to some purpose within the competency of the state to effect. Determination by the Legislature of what constitutes proper exercise of police power is not final or conclusive but is subject to supervision by the courts. Lawton v. Steele, 152 U.S. 133, 137 , 14 S. Sup. Ct. 499.

[Meyer v. State of Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923)]

Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary 2nd Ed. (1993)

liberty, n. {OFr.liberte; L. libertas (-atis), freedom, from liber, free.}
1. freedom or release from slavery, imprisonment, captivity, or any other form of arbitrary control. - 

[Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary 2nd Ed. (1993)]

Black's Commentaries (1 Bla.Com. 125)

Natural liberty is the right which nature gives to all mankind of disposing of their persons and property after the manner they judge most consistent with their happiness, on condition of their acting within the limits of the law of nature and so as not to interfere with an equal exercise of the same rights by other men.

[Black's Commentaries (1 Bla.Com. 125)]

Samuel Adams

"The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on Earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule."

[Samuel Adams]

John Philpot Curran, 1790

"The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he breaks, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime."

[John Philpot Curran, 1790]

Thomas Jefferson

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." - 

1 Blackstone's Commentaries 134; Hare, Constitution__. 777; Bouvier's Law Dictionary, 1914 ed., Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed.

Personal liberty consists in the power of locomotion, of changing situation, of removing one's person to whatever place one's inclination may direct, without imprisonment or restraint unless by due course of law.

Civil Liberty is defined by Sir William Blackstone to be "that of a member of society, and is no other than natural liberty so far restrained by human laws (and no further) as is necessary and expedient for the general advantage of the public."

Preamble to the U.S. Constitution

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."  

The Declaration of Independence (1776)

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

[Declaration of Independence (1776)]

Olmstead v. U.S., 277 US 438, 479 (1927), Justice Brandeis dissenting

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are benificent ....The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." 


"The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone - the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men."

[Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 478 (1928) (Brandeis, J., dissenting)]

Gouled v. U.S., 255 U.S. 298 (1921)

"It would not be possible to add to the emphasis with which the framers of our Constitution and this court (in Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616 , 6 Sup. Ct. 524, in Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383 , 34 Sup. Ct. 341, L. R. A. 1915B, 834, Ann Cas. 1915C, 1177, and in Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385 , 40 Sup. Ct. 182) have declared the importance to political liberty and to the welfare of our country of the due observance of the rights guaranteed under the Constitution [255 U.S. 298, 304]   by these two amendments. The effect of the decisions cited is: That such rights are declared to be indispensable to the 'full enjoyment of personal security, personal liberty and private property'; that they are to be regarded as of the very essence of constitutional liberty; and that the guaranty of them is as important and as imperative as are the guaranties of the other fundamental rights of the individual citizen-the right to trial by jury, to the writ of habeas corpus, and to due process of law. It has been repeatedly decided that these amendments should receive a liberal construction, so as to prevent stealthy encroachment upon or 'gradual depreciation' of the rights secured by them, by imperceptible practice of courts or by well-intentioned, but mistakenly overzealous, executive officers"

[Gouled v. U.S., 255 U.S. 298 (1921)]

Boyd v. United States, 116 US 616, 635, 29 L.Ed. 746, (1886)

"Those who framed our Constitution and the Bill of Rights were ever aware of subtle encroachments on individual liberty. They knew that 'illegitimate and unconstitutional practices get their first footing.... by silent approaches and slight deviations from legal modes of procedure.

[. . .]

"It may be that it is the obnoxious thing in its mildest and least repulsive form; but illegitimate and unconstitutional practices get their first footing in that way, namely, by silent approaches and slight deviations from legal modes of procedure. This can only be obviated by adhering to the rule that constitutional provisions for the security of person and property should be liberally construed. A close and literal construction deprives them of half their efficacy, and leads to gradual depreciation of the right, as if it consisted more in sound than in substance. It is the duty of courts to be watchful for the constitutional rights of the citizen, and against any stealthy encroachments thereon."

[Boyd v. United States, 116 US 616, 635, 29 L.Ed. 746, (1886)]

McNabb v. U.S., 318 US 332, 347 (1943):

"The history of liberty has largely been the history of the observence of procedural safeguards." - 

[Justice Felix Frankfurter in McNabb v. U.S., 318 US 332, 347 (1943):]

Shaughnesy v. U.S., 345 U.S. 206, 224

"Procedural fairness and regularity are of the indispensible essence of liberty." -

[Justice Robert Jackson in Shaughnesy v. U.S., 345 U.S. 206, 224]

Roscoe Pound - "The Development of Constitutional Guarantees of Liberty", (Pg. 1)

"Whatever 'liberty' may mean today, the liberty guaranteed by our bill of rights is a reservation to the individual of certain fundamental reasonable expectations involved in life in civilized society and a freedom from arbitrary and unreasonable exercise of the power and authority of those who are designated or chosen in a politically organized society to adjust relations and order conduct, and so are able to apply the force of that society to individuals. Liberty under law implies a systematic and orderly application of that force so that it is uniform, equal, and predictable, and proceeds from reason and upon understood grounds rather from caprice or impulse or without full and fair hearing of all affected and understanding of the facts on which official action is taken." 

Benjamin Franklin

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." 

1 Cor. 7:21:

"Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. " 

[1 Cor. 7:21, Bible, NKJV]

1 Cor. 7:23:

"You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men."

[1 Cor. 7:23, Bible, NKJV]

Patrick Henry

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.....The great object is that every man be armed.....Everyone who is able may have a gun."