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Liberty for AllReclaiming Individual Privacy in a New Era of Public Morality$
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Elizabeth Price Foley

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780300109832

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300109832.001.0001

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Being Sovereign: The Harm Principle

Being Sovereign: The Harm Principle

(p.41) Chapter 3 Being Sovereign: The Harm Principle
Liberty for All

Elizabeth Price Foley

Yale University Press

This chapter examines how an underlying morality of American law which defines the limits of governmental power—that is, protecting life, liberty, and property (LLP)—and concomitantly values residual individual sovereignty should be applied pragmatically. It first considers residual individual sovereignty and what it means for constitutional analysis, and how a government prevents harm to the LLP of its citizens. The chapter then offers a definition of harm based on the historical understanding of the legitimate purpose of government as protecting the LLP of citizens, which creates three categories of harm: harm to life, harm to liberty, and harm to property. It also discusses emotional harm and societal harm, instances of competing sovereignty, self-harm, presumption of liberty in favor of individuals and against governmental restraint, and the morality of American law versus public morality. The chapter concludes by analyzing how American law currently conceptualizes the tension between individual privacy and public morality.

Keywords:   law, governmental power, protecting life, liberty, property, residual individual sovereignty, harm, presumption of liberty, public morality, privacy

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