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date: 27 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses the evolution of U.S. civil rights and civil liberties through the lens of Supreme Court decisions. It traces the evolution of negative rights against the state and positive liberties from nineteenth-century property rights decisions through early-twenty-first century decisions regarding same-sex marriage. It also traces the shift in the Court’s approach to rights cases from one in which the state is regarded as a threat to individual rights to one in which the state plays a complex role of balancing rights claims. As well, the article demonstrates that rights claims and cases have become more complex as notions of the “public interest” become more contested when the pursuit of general interests has a disproportionate effect on the interests of particular social groups.

Keywords: Supreme Court, public interest, property rights, same-sex marriage, negative rights, positive liberties

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