John Locke argued that liberty does not equal license. Freedom to do some things does not mean freedom to do everything. In order to live in an ordered society there must be limits to our freedoms, even in a democracy. There needs to be a balance over time between conservative order and liberal liberty and if the balance is more or less a state of equality over time (radical) then we have justice in society. 

The challenge is determining which freedoms will be protected and which will not. One principle that we use to help us navigate choices to put limits upon civil liberties is John Stuart Mills’ harm principle which is the idea that you have freedom (civil liberties) to do what you want as long as you do not harm anybody. Every sane adult should be free to do whatever he or she wants as long as his or her actions do not harm, or threaten to harm, others.  This may seem simple enough. Of course, the question then becomes: what is harm?

The court plays the referee in American politics in these conflicts, but it is important to note that the decision often boils down to conflicting liberal, conservative, or radical interpretations of the U.S. Constitution, between the justices holding to these world views – regarding the idea of harm.

  1. So, taking this into account; review recent civil liberty cases heard by the Supreme Court in the current year here (Links to an external site.)
  2. Select one of these cases and conduct further basic research so that you have a good understanding of the case and the issue being decided before the court.
  3. Summarize the case in your discussion post
    • And weigh in on how you think the case should be decided.

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