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Strauss's avatar

Do U. S. Citizens and residents have a legal or constitutional right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"?

Asked by Strauss (22076points) October 20th, 2009

The phrase “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” appears in the Declaration of Independence; have these concepts been codified into law, either in the Constitution, or other?

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13 Answers

Ivan's avatar

Not in such a general sense.

dpworkin's avatar

No. But you can pretty much pursue life, liberty and happiness as long as you don’t cross a big wealthy constituency.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

It’s pretty difficult to codify such a notion as “the pursuit of happiness”.. but “we the people” have written the law.. so .. in a sense… yes.

CMaz's avatar

The key word is, pursuit.

Facade's avatar

I don’t think so either.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

That was part of the Declaration of Independence. That’s more of a speech than a legal document.

jutty's avatar

For the happiness part, it’s like ChazMaz said, the pursuit is yours and yours alone.

However, the ideas of life and liberty for the individual are the primary policy concerns that form the basis for much of the U.S. Constitution (particularly the Bill of Rights and the Due Process clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments). Much of U.S. law revolves around the protection of life and liberty.

wundayatta's avatar

It could be argued that the entire legal system is an attempt to guarantee us our freedom to pursue those goals.

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

YOu can pursue hapiness all you want, but as soon as you catch it, it’s probably a felony.

DrBill's avatar

At 19, I was broke, and living on public aid, today I have two Ph.D’s and own a multi-million dollar business.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is there for everyone, and anyone who says different is not applying the “pursuit” part.

It’s not free, but if you put forth some effort it can all become a reality.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I do not think that all populations in the US have the equal right to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I am certainly including the idea of pursuit in my decision making. For example not all populations have equal access to freedom of religion thus hindering their pursuit of happiness because when in fact they do pursue their religion they can become jailed for it.

BBQsomeCows's avatar

As the document itself attests they are God given rights.

As such the destruction of government or the Constitution do not remove those rights.

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