“Privilege” vs Right

“ In summary, you do not have to show your ID unless you’re under arrest. The exception is if you’re engaged in a “privilege,” be prepared to show your ID to a peace officer or magistrate if asked.”
U.S. Law Shield

As I was looking up legalities of whether I can show a photo of my license in case I forgot my wallet I found this. The use of the term “privilege” seems to violate our Constitutional Rights. Discussion?

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I, personally, do not use the term Constitutional Rights, as that implies that our Constitution (government) gives/grants us our rights; whereas, our enumerated rights (which are only the ones enumerated, not all inclusive of all rights we have), are guaranteed and protected by our Constitution. Too many people assume our government gives us these rights. Our Founding Fathers made clear that is not so, that our rights are inalienable. Most unfortunately, we have many politicians that share that same false belief and have enacted laws contrary to our rights.


Depends on ‘privilege’

We do not have a right to operate a motor vehicle, which is why each state establishes it’s own traffic laws and requirements.

That would be a privilege and you would need to provide Identification (a driver’s license) when requested by law enforcement.

I agree with @Dave17, the Constitution does not grant our rights, it guarantees our rights, and government is instituted to secure those rights…

I would add, when government becomes detrimental to these ends, it ceases to have legitimacy.


Sounds like they’re referring to driving on a public road. We’re often told it’s a privilege, as opposed to a right, which is why you have to get a license and why your “privilege” to drive can be taken away. It’s also why, in this case, a peace officer or magistrate can ask for your ID, because you’re engaged in the “privilege” of driving on public roads.


Actually, God gave us the right to defend our self’s. The Constitution extends that by recognizing inalienable rights given by God. The Constitution codifies that we have a 2nd Amendment right to own and bear arms. I nowhere does it say feds, states or local governing bodies can modify these rights. Our own government is breaking the laws. Driving has nothing to do with the 2nd amendment. But maybe it should.


The concept of ‘privilege’, which is some aspect of freedom we have, but not a right that we possess… is in line with operating a motor vehicle.

Our rights, are rights, and are ours. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a right, though we the people have far too often submitted to and complied with legislation or regulations that infringe on the right.


Well said.

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Hope this makes some sense.

It is my right to say whatever I wish to you. I’m privileged to have this forum in which to do it. Get the difference?

A lot of people don’t get the difference and, unfortunately, many of them are legislators. Understanding the difference between rights and privileges is critical for citizens trying to live under the law in a free society, and far too many lawmakers spend most of their energy trying to blur the distinction between the two.

Consider a couple of proposals in our own little laboratory of democracy, the Indiana General Assembly.

Rep. Chris Campbell, D-Lafayette, wants to allow illegal (or, if you prefer, undocumented) immigrants to drive on the state’s roads and get insurance for their vehicles. Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears agrees, saying it is "not a legal issuea’ but a “human rights issue” and “a human dignity issue.”

Driving is a privilege, not a right. Those granted the privilege have met certain conditions, such as being a citizen of a certain age, and agree to abide by certain requirements, such as obeying the rules of the road. But Campbell and Mears want us to think of it as a right.

Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, wants to require Hoosiers to provide “safe storage” for any guns in their homes, and Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis, wants to allow retired law enforcement officers to carry guns in schools.

Bearing arms is a right, not a privilege. It’s acknowledged in the Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court has affirmed that it applies to individuals. Stoops and Sandlin want to water it down to a privilege, Stoops setting a condition for its granting and Sandlin granting one group an exercise of it not allowed other groups.

“Granting” is the key word here.

Rights are not conferred by anyone, and they cannot be taken away or altered by anyone. They are inherent. Call them natural or God-given, depending on your metaphysical inclination, they belong to all of us equally, simply by virtue of the fact that we are human. Properly understood, the Constitution does not exist to give us our rights, but to protect the rights we are born with.

Privileges, on the other hand, do not belong to all. They are given to some and withheld from others. They are always conditional, subject to change or outright removal by those in authority controlling them. They are unequal by nature, some people always having more and some less. And often, a privilege involves actually taking something from one group and giving it to another.

It is, unfortunately, far too easy to get rights and privileges mixed up. Though rights exist outside government and privileges within them, the reality still is that rights cannot exist without government. For a right to be meaningful, someone with authority and power must both recognize and honor that right. There are no rights in an anarchy.

And there is the loophole our legislators use to happily mix and match rights and privileges, replacing one with the other however it suits them in a given case. Doing either is a way to increase legislators’ sense of well-being. They have sworn to serve the public but know deep down that it needs the enlightened guidance only they can provide.

Eroding a right into a privilege opens the door for the bureaucrats and lawyers of the administrative state to add unfathomable nuances and incalculable exceptions to the maze of rules lesser mortals must navigate. Pretending a privilege is a right allows officials to pit group against group, elevating some groups to favored status and downgrading others to a lower class.

Either way, the individual citizen is diminished, which is the point.

I remember a phrase from the Army that will be familiar to anyone who has served in the military: Rank has its privilege. It was always uttered with the contempt that sprang from unrelieved cynicism. We all wore the same uniform, followed the same regulations, had the same obligations. Except, of course, the officers who ignored the rules because they knew they could.


Excellent post.

Just for the sake of conversation, I’ll expand that even “Rights” have their restrictions, usually summarized as something like “your rights end where others’ rights begin.”

I’ll avoid the old “shouting ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theater” example and stick to 2nd Amendment. I have the right to bear (“carry”) arms. I don’t have the right to point my firearms at others. I don’t have the right to fire weapons in my neighborhood and threaten others. Gun free zones… that’s a grey area. I think everyone here already gets this point.

I say all this because your examples from Indiana are fascinating. I’d guess that the prosecutor who thinks driving is a right also thinks self-defense is a privilege. Is he anti-2A?

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Does the fact they are already dead, mean they won? :rofl:

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If we secretly count the votes, of course!

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We DO however have the right to “TRAVEL”. Been ages since I looked into this, but if I recall correctly, you DO have the RIGHT to drive a car UNLESS IT IS FOR COMMERCIAL BUSINESS.

If anyone can clarify and add/correct I would be very interested to know the Constitutional interpretation of “Travel” and if that means in an unlicensed or registered vehicle. Seems we “VOLUNTEER” to give up certain rights just due to not understanding law.

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There is a “right” to move freely. But that’s Article 13 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, not the U.S. Constitution.

You are free to operate your own vehicle on your own property. It’s not a formal “right,” just something that’s very difficult to regulate. The “privilege” is operating a vehicle on public roads. That’s something regulated by the will of the people through their elected legislators, because we don’t want to share highways with people who are incapable of staying in their own lane.

We have a right to freedom of movement (travel), but that does not correlate with a right to drive. Operating a motor vehicle is a privilege and not a right… or we could all drive as we wanted without a license.

Travel and the means of travel are two different things.


As a former Officer, I take issue with that statement.

Rank has its privileges but it has its responsibilities also. No we didn’t all have the same obligation (except for the oath we took). Those Officers that you have disdain for have the RESPONSIBILITY for the men under them and most, despite the stereotype, did a damn fine job once they learned the ropes. Yes as butter bars we tended to be nitwits until we connect up with a solid Sr NCO to guide us through that first couple years, but then again so are most E-1s and E-2’s until they get their ish squared away.

When a unit screws up, the first person they look to for the scapegoat is the commander. And it just takes an officer breaking wind at the wrong time to end their career regardless of how good a leader they might be.

Many Officers have committed suicide or lived with the mental anguish of the men they lost under their command…because they were responsible for that life that did not make it home to their family.

Sure there were Officers who weren’t fit for command…but I could say that across the enlisted ranks also.

So it’s your right to have disdain for Officers and lump them all together, but it’s also your right to be wrong. And it’s my privilege to advise you that you are.

Now, back to the topic at hand, right vs privilege. My example is in the paragraph above.


Sure there were Officers who weren’t fit for command…but I could say that across the enlisted ranks also.
No we didn’t all have the same obligation (except for the oath we took)

Yes, there were a lot of personnel who were not fit to be officers or NCO’s, and I have worked with a lot of fine officers during my career, and I don’t regret serving with them, but there were officers as well as NCO"s who took advantage of their rank for personnel gain and did not care about the troops they were responsible for, every man and woman in the military, whether officer or enlisted have the same responsibility, obligation, and oath, the oath that you took as an officer is no different than enlisted, just a few words added, so don’t tell me that you didn’t have the same obligations that I had, If you want to say that, then as far as I’m concerned you don’t have the PRIVILEGE to wear the uniform or be an officer in the United States Military, so you can say that I disdained all officers and put them in the same category, and that’s your right, and like you said it’s my right to say that you are wrong and it’s my privilege to advise you that you are, so if you want to take this personal that’s your right, but don’t tell me that I am disdaining all officers, and that I put you in that category, because I’m not.

@Richard263 - Happy to hear you’ve had the opportunity to work with some solid officers.

I mentioned in my post above exactly that our oaths were virtually the same and so from that perspective of obligation you are correct and I agree and made that point. However, my other point was the obligation/responsibility that the Officer corps has to the enlisted ranks, for strategy and for lives is at a different level. So I’ll use responsibility vs obligation to avoid further confusion.

Happy to hear I’m wrong, I took your posting below to be inclusive of all Officers:

Happy to hear that was not the case and that you were not disparaging all Officers.

That being the case, I no longer take exception to the comment, as we appear to be on the same page. Thank you for clarifying your original comments.


You are very welcome sir, and If I offended you, I do apologize, Airborne All the Way.


Simple misunderstanding sir, no apologies necessary…first round’s on me at the off base watering hole!!


I demand an apology from both of you. I’ve been equally crapped on by both officers and NCOs. Fortunately, both were relieved of duty. The NCO retired. The officer was booted. I was a super duper trooper. Very squared away. I wanted to advance towards a commission. NCO hated officers and therefore me. The officer was a lying cheater. He got caught in his lies and tried to ruin my career and thus life. Thought I would do time for the lies he accused me of. Classified material is no joking manner. He made up a story to cover his six. Thank God justice was served in both cases. There are good officers and NCOs. There are also incompetent ones as well. The military is full of a diverse sample of men and women with various backgrounds. At one point I wanted to be a chaplain. But then I met my wife and that became a dead end.

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