individual rights

Mixed-Motive Instruction

Courts use mixed-motive jury instructions in many discrimination and improper retaliation cases. These instructions usually take the following form: "If the plaintiff shows that the defendant did something that hurt her, and the action was motivated by...


Obscenity is a category of speech unprotected by the First Amendment. Obscenity laws are concerned with prohibiting lewd, filthy, or disgusting words or pictures. Indecent materials or depictions, normally speech or artistic expressions, may be...

Personal Autonomy


The Supreme Court does not use the phrase "personal autonomy" very often. Unlike privacy, it is not a fundamental right. As such, it is still a very limited concept regarding its impact on legal jurisprudence.

In Planned...

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)


The Supreme Court case, since overturned by Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which upheld the constitutionality of “separate, but equal facilities” based on race.


Louisiana had adopted a law in 1890 that...

Reverse discrimination

When a member of a non-minority group claims that someone (such as an employer) has discriminated against the person.


1. A power or privilege held by the general public as the result of a constitution, statute, regulation, judicial precedent, or other type of law.

2. A legally enforceable claim held by someone as the result of specific events or transactions...

Right to counsel

OverviewThe right to counsel refers to the right of a criminal defendant to have a lawyer assist in his defense, even if he cannot afford to pay for an attorney. The Sixth Amendment gives defendants the right to counsel in federal prosecutions. However,...

right to privacy

Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary1) The right not to have one's personal matters disclosed or publicized; the right to be left alone. 2) The right against undue government intrusion into fundamental personal issues and decisions....

riparian rights

Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law DictionaryRights of the owner of land adjacent to a river or stream to use the water for certain purposes. State laws vary on the extent of the rights given riparian landowners.A riparian landowner may not, however...

Roe v. Wade (1973)

The Supreme Court case that held that the Constitution protected a woman’s right to an abortion prior to the viability of the fetus.


The case involved a Texas statute that prohibited abortion except when necessary to save the life of...