The Right to Dignity in the United States

Michelle Freeman

Volume 68, Issue 5, 1135-1168

Under the law, “dignity” is a principle that is often invoked, but ill-defined. The most recent and prominent example of this was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. There, the Court created a right to “dignity,” but failed to articulate what a right to dignity meant, or how far it reached.

This Note attempts to provide a definition to the right created by the Supreme Court. To that end, this Note traces federal jurisprudence in order to determine what types of rights are considered to make up one’s “dignity.” This Note then examines the states’ use of “dignity” within their respective constitutions to determine whether further insight into dignity’s meaning can be found there.

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