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What is the Limit on Your Rights?


Is there a limit on your rights? Can the government violate them "just a little bit?" And if so, how much is too much?

A view of the U.S. Capitol building on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

I have been doing a series on rights over the last few weeks and what would a series on rights be without addressing the ever-popular question: Are there any limits on your rights?

As I explained this weekend on TheBlaze Radio’s Chris Salcedo Show, the answer to that question is yes… but just one:

You do not have a right to violate the natural rights of another person. In other words, your rights end where the rights of other people begin, and vice versa.

You’ll hear a lot of people today justify government violations of your rights by insisting that your rights are not absolute. To support that claim, they’ll often point to a few accepted limitations on your rights like the idea that you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater or laws against libel and slander. But as I demonstrated a few months ago here at TheBlaze, those laws aren’t limits on your ability to exercise your rights. The reason we have laws against something like libel or slander is because when you engage in those activities you are violating the rights of another person.

The goal behind those kinds of laws is not to limit your rights, but to protect your rights from other people. The difference there couldn’t be more dramatic.

The fact of the matter is, our rights are absolute as long as you don’t use them to violate the rights of another person.

To get a better idea of why that’s true, let’s look at this from a little different perspective. What restrictions do you think the government should put on what you believe about God or how you choose to worship him if what you are doing doesn’t impact the rights of another person? What restrictions do you think the government should put on the words you speak if what you’re saying doesn’t impact the rights of another person?

If you spend some time thinking about those questions with respect to your rights personally, there’s one conclusion that’s very hard to escape: As long as you aren’t violating the rights of somebody else, there’s simply no justification for the government to limit your rights.

That’s important to understand because it shows us very definitively where the line is that the government must not be allowed to cross. Once we know exactly where that line is, it becomes much easier for us to defend our rights from those who are trying to destroy them.

Chad Kent is an author and speaker with a unique style that makes the Constitution simple and fun. Listen to Chad every Saturday during The Chris Salcedo Show on TheBlaze Radio and visit his web site at

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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