How Constitutional Rights Matter

How Do Constitutional Rights Matter? First, enshrining rights in constitutions does not automatically ensure that those rights will be respected. For rights to matter, rights violations need to be politically costly. But this is difficult to accomplish for unconnected groups of citizens. Second, some rights are easier to enforce than others, especially those with natural constituencies that can mobilize for their enforcement. Third, even highly organized groups armed with the constitution may not be able to stop governments dedicated to rights-repression. When constitutional rights are enforced by dedicated organizations, they are thus best understood as speed bumps that slow down attempts at repression.