The Meaning of The ''Liberty Guarantee''

In Young v. Commonwealth, 101 Va. 853, 45 S.E. 327 (1903), the Supreme Court explained the meaning of the liberty guarantee as follows: The word "liberty," as used in the Constitution of the United States and the several States, has frequently been construed, and means more than mere freedom from restraint. It means not merely the right to go where one chooses, but to do such acts as he may judge best for his interest, not inconsistent with the equal rights of others; that is, to follow such pursuits as may be best adapted to his faculties, and which will give him the highest enjoyment. The liberty mentioned is deemed to embrace the right of the citizen to be free in the enjoyment of all his faculties; to be free to use them in all lawful ways; to live and work where he will; to earn his livelihood by any lawful calling, and for that purpose to enter into all contracts which may be proper, necessary, and essential to his carrying out to a successful conclusion the purpose above mentioned. These are individual rights, formulated as such under the phrase "pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence, which begins with the fundamental proposition that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Young, 101 Va. at 862-63, 45 S.E. at 328-29.