What are the basic civil rights of an American citizen?


Quick Answer

The basic civil rights of an American citizen include the right to life, property, liberty and happiness, according to Lawyers.com. These rights are labeled "inalienable" in the U.S. Constitution and are not the only types of individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

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Full Answer

The rights to life involve personal decisions that an individual makes about his own life, including profession, where to live, and whether or not to have children, says Lawyers.com. The right to hold property is an extension of the rights to life. It entitles citizens to buy property with their income and to be protected from the government taking such property away arbitrarily. There are certain exceptions to such protection, such as if the homeowner has filed bankruptcy or if the property has been obtained illegally.

The right to civil liberty entitles an individual to rights that protect him from government control when making personal decisions such as voting or with whom to associate, adds Lawyer.com. The government can't prevent an individual from taking actions against his will, even if such actions are considered necessary for the collective good. Politically, an individual is free to make decisions and take actions that he thinks are beneficial, not just for himself but for the country. The right to happiness includes the right to a set of actions connected to how an individual may seek pleasure, satisfaction and self-fulfillment, which is protected as long as others are not harmed and the action is legal.

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