Paul Grant - First Amendment Lawyer, Not A Civil Rights Lawyer

When a person asks me, what are my civil rights, I usually don't give the answer they expect. Why? Because most people are confused about the concepts of civil rights and individual rights. 

Do civil rights consist of what's listed in the Bill of Rights, or are there other civil rights? 

I don't agree with most lawyers, or with most judges, or with Congress, or with the President (any President) on what your civil rights are.  I find a list of basic civil rights in the Declaration of Independence - the inalienable, individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - not in acts passed by Congress.  The Bill of Rights also outlines many basic individual rights. 

In my opinion (which is not the law), you don't have a civil right to anything you take from another person by force, whether you take it personally, or whether the government takes it for you. 


If you’re thinking of filing a civil rights lawsuit, I would encourage you to think again.  Don't ask me to help you sue another individual or a company for violating your civil rights, or even to sue a cop if your rights were violated by a police officer.  I advise against such suits because I have found the law in that area makes no sense to me, and even when suing a government official or police officer - in my opinion - the law is so stacked in favor of the government, there is little chance of your success. 

The one area where I think civil rights lawsuits can be important are First Amendment lawsuits, when brought in federal court against government entities or officials.  Legal efforts to protect our rights to freedom of speech, assembly, religion, and to petition the government, are worthwhile - and often effective!  Refreshingly, many federal judges, even some of those who never seem persuaded by criminal appeals, become eloquent and articulate defenders of First Amendment rights to free speech, and assembly, and petitioning the government.  I have been involved in many First Amendment lawsuits, in numerous states, and in two Supreme Court cases, both of which were successful.

Stay out of court if you can - Live free and prosper!

 First Amendment