General Question

iamthemob's avatar

What is the best way that people can learn about the rights guaranteed to them by their government?

Asked by iamthemob (17159points) September 20th, 2010

I went to law school. That’s very expensive though…

I was wondering what internet sites, local groups, organizations, meetings, classes, etc. people had found that taught them about a right they wanted to learn about – or even better, something that taught them about a right they didn’t know they had.

If you have an example, please make sure to say what country your from if possible – I’m from the U.S., so that’s my personal interests – but there is value in comparing what rights people have (or do not have) in other countries.

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19 Answers

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

Read the United States Constitution.

marinelife's avatar

The Internet is a great source. Here is the Bill of Rights. It is also in wikipedia.

It is also all over Washington D.C. At the Library of Congress for example.

iamthemob's avatar


Thanks! I’ll point out that there has been a good amount of court interpretation, disagreement, etc. regarding the meaning of certain provisions. Also there are certain amendments (the First and Eighth) which depend on the developing feelings of the community and growth of society for their interpretation.

Also, the Constitution is the start – the states cannot abrogate it, but the state may actually provide for GREATER protections than the U.S. Constitution.

MeinTeil's avatar

Listen to their parents instead of their teachers or MSNBC.

iamthemob's avatar


Aren’t there better resources than any of those three though?

muppetish's avatar

In addition to the reading the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, I would direct individuals to the ACLU website, which keeps track of current and resolved cases. I think they organize things pretty well (but I know many people who aren’t fond of the ACLU for various reasons.) I also think anyone interested in rights should study the landmark court decisions. But… again… I know of people who don’t think those should hold water because our judicial system is supposedly corrupt.

I use all four of these sources.

iamthemob's avatar


FANTASTIC link! People generally think that the judicial system is corrupt because judges are being “activists.” However, the judicial branch is exactly the one branch that should be considering the rights of the minority over the majority – as the other two depend on the majority to vote on them.

Tuesdays_Child's avatar

In addition to the U.S. Constitution, I also peruse my state constitution. I try to keep a pretty current view of any local laws that may affect me too.

robmandu's avatar

In America, the government doesn’t guarantee the rights of the people. The people do, as codified by the U.S. Constitution.

The Constitution describes the government, its role, its powers, and most notably its limitations. All unenumerated powers – and many specific ones, too – are reserved for the people.

The people therefore have the responsibility for guaranteeing rights.

iamthemob's avatar


Not exactly. If we’re approaching it from a social contract perspective, through the constitution we cede certain of our rights to the government in return for the promise of the government to protect our rights on a larger scale. We also, through the Bill of Rights and certain of the amendments, have listed out rights with which the government shall not interfere, and those not included shall be relegated to the agreement between the individual state government and her people.

But it may be better to say what civil rights are guaranteed by the constitution that we expect the government to respect, and what’s the best way to find where those rights are available for us to review.

So…any suggestions then?

bob_'s avatar

I found this site. It looks like a good place to start.

iamthemob's avatar


Nice – seems like a good little primer on the basics of the Constitution / separation of powers.

YARNLADY's avatar

It works best when you are wondering about a specific right. For example what are your rights as a renter? Look up Tenants Rights for your area. What are your rights on your mortgage contract? Read the contract.

It mostly involves reading the material that is available. Some people actually enjoy reading the Supreme Court decisions over the centuries since the U. S. Court existed. You learn a lot that way, and it’s all free.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Hire a lawyer when you notice there’s a problem

iamthemob's avatar


Okay. That would be the worst way. ;-)

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thank you for asking this question. With plans to move from the US to the UK, I’ve been thinking about how I can go about doing this England’s laws. There is plenty of information on the internet, but there are times that I’d like to be able to ask for clarification.

Some ways might be:
* Take a government/law class at a community college
* Audit a high school government class
* Do volunteer work for the local council
* Sit in on court cases

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Im from the US.

Michael Badnarik’s Constitution Class
I like how this class lays out the differences between rights and privelages.
I guess much of my libertarian views come from watching this.

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