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The right of the people to meet or associate with others for peaceful purposes

Freedom of association encompasses both an individual's right to join or leave groups voluntarily, the right of the group to take collective action to pursue the interests of its members and the right of an association to accept or decline membership based on certain criteria. Freedom of Association, The Essentials of Human Rights describes the right as coming together with other individuals to collectively express, promote, pursue or defend common interests. Freedom of association is both an individual right and a collective right, guaranteed by many modern and democratic legal systems, including the United States Bill of Rights, article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international law, including articles 20 and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Amendment I to the U.S. Constitution
Congress shall make no law ... abridging ... the right of the people peaceably to assemble.


America at Her Best, by Joseph S. Fulda, The Freeman, Nov 1981
Freedom of association includes both the freedom to associate and the freedom not to associate. The flight of productive citizens from the tired cities, in particular, and the Northeast, in general, is a powerful use of both freedoms, a primal expression of the American ideal.
The Authority of a Foreign Talisman: A Study of U.S. Constitutional Practice as Authority in Nineteenth Century Argentina and the Argentine Elite's Leap of Faith, by Jonathan M. Miller, American University Law Review, Jun 1997
Examines the history of Argentine law prior to adoption of the 1853 Constitution, the arguments in Alberdi's Bases and the influence of the U.S. Constitution during the remainder of the 19th century and up to 1930
Freedom of association was extensive. The Radical Party participated in rebellions against the government in 1890, 1893, and 1905, but never faced limits on its activities for very long once a rebellion was over. The Socialist Party-with newspapers, a deputy in Congress, and workers' co-ops-was well established by the early 1900s.
Blessings of Discrimination, by F. A. Harper, In Brief, 1951
Discusses the human ability to discriminate, e.g., to feel the heat of a stove, which Buddha considered an "essential" virtue, contrasting it with the policy of nondiscrimination on employment, association and other areas
One of the leading areas for charges of discrimination is that of association. It would seem that if one is to be non-discriminating, he must share his company equally with every race, every shade of color, every nationality, every religion, every age, each sex, and every one of innumerable other differences which comprise the means of discrimination. One cannot help but wonder in this connection what would comprise non-discrimination, for instance, in the realm of matrimony. Monogamy would certainly disappear—unless, again, the state were to take over all matrimonial affairs ...
Boy Scouts of America and Monmouth Council, Boy Scouts of America, Petitioners, v. James Dale, Respondent [PDF], by Cato Institute, 28 Feb 2000
Brief of Amici Curiae (friends of the court) in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000), authored by Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund, Cato Institute and five other organizations, in support of the petitioners
To ensure that government remain subject to the freely renewed consent ... rather than impose the views of a temporary regime ... the Constitution offers its most steadfast and unflinching protection to a broadly defined sphere of private association. Private expressive associations should include, at a minimum, all nonprofit, non-commercial entities that have some expressive purpose and limit membership in any manner related to that purpose ... Once the constitutionally proper scope of private expressive association is recognized, it readily follows that the Boy Scouts ... are fully protected by the First Amendment.
The Chavez Tragedy, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Mar 2001
Comments on the disclosure that Linda Chavez, nominee for U.S. Secretary of Labor, had harbored an "illegal alien" and perhaps employed her to do household chores
Here in the land of the theoretically free ..., you can't have the houseguest of your choice without permission from the government. By what moral theory must Chavez get a bureaucrat's okay before she invites an abused and impoverished Guatemalan woman to stay in her home for however long she wishes? The same folks who rhapsodize about freedom of association went berserk at [her] benevolent act ... The immigration issue, freed of its grandiloquent pronouncements about national sovereignty, is nothing more than a matter of freedom of association. Chavez violated no one's rights by what she did.
Related Topics: Labor, Minimum Wage Laws, Taxation
Fighting Discrimination without the Government, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Jun 2014
Comments on an amendment to Arizona's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), about discrimination by non-government individuals or groups; revised version of "We Can Oppose Bigotry without the Politicians" (28 Feb 2014)
While such behavior is troubling—judging persons by their involuntary membership in a group eats at the foundation of libertarianism, respect for human dignity—the refusal to serve someone on such a basis is nevertheless an exercise of self-ownership, property rights, and freedom of nonassociation. It is both nonviolent and nonviolative of other people's rights. If we are truly to embrace freedom of association, ... we must also embrace freedom of nonassociation. The test of one's commitment to freedom of association, like freedom of speech, is whether one sticks by it even when the content is objectionable.
Individual Rights or Civil Rights?, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Dec 1995
Contrasts the right not to be discriminated against with the right of freedom of association and concludes that one of them is invalid, also discussing private vs. government discrimination
If freedom of association reigns, an individual has a right to associate or not associate using any standard he pleases. But if the right not to be discriminated against reigns, such freedom of association cannot be allowed ... If an individual owns his life, he has the right to choose with whom he'll deal. That right to choose logically entails the right to use whatever criteria the person wishes. No rights are violated if he should abstain from dealing with a particular person. That statement remains true regardless of what criteria he uses.
On Freedom of Association, by Charles W. Baird, The Freeman, Jul 2002
The associations we choose to enter may not undertake violence to accomplish their ends, and within each association one person may not coerce another. Associations must be based on mutual consent. ... We are free to associate with those who will accept us ... and we are free to abstain from associations of which we do not approve ...
Ricardo in Parliament, by Edwin Cannan, The Economic Journal, Jun 1894
Account of Ricardo's final years, as a Member of Parliament for Portarlington, discussing his actions and speeches on matters of general and economic policy; published in two parts (June and Sept. 1894 issues); quotes are from Hansard
In the autumn session of 1819 [Ricardo] voted steadily against the repressive measures which became known as the Six Acts. Against one of them, that for the Prevention of Seditious Meetings, he made a speech in which he maintained that the people's right of public meeting 'was a right of meeting in such numbers and showing such a front to ministers as would afford a hope that bad measures would be abandoned, and that public opinion would be respected.' Such meetings were inconvenient, he admitted, ... but till Parliament was reformed [that sort of check] was necessary.
We Can Oppose Bigotry without the Politicians, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 28 Feb 2014
Explains why the state (as in the case of Arizona's Senate Bill 1062) is not necessary to ensure that people or businesses don't discriminate against others on the basis of sexual orientation or other reasons
[T]he refusal to serve someone ... is nevertheless an exercise of ... freedom of nonassociation ... If we are truly to embrace freedom of association, logically we must also embrace freedom of nonassociation. The test of one's commitment to freedom of association, like freedom of speech, is whether one sticks by it even when the content repulses. But does this mean that private individuals may not peacefully sanction businesses that invidiously discriminate against would-be customers? No! They may, and they should. Boycotts, publicity, ostracism, and other noncoercive measures are also constituents of freedom of association.


Liberty & Community, by James Otteson, 14 Jun 2011
Contrasts the arguments from the political right and left as to whether granting individual liberty threatens the larger community, counseling that freedom of association is necessary to a free society
One effect of individual liberty on human communities that's often overlooked is that it enables the creation of new communities ... What human beings do when they're allowed is they can associate themselves in new and unpredictable ways that match up with their own schedule of values, their own commitments. In those kinds of communities, because they're freely chosen and because they connect up with people’s personal schedules of values, the things that matter to them, those kinds of communities can be deep. They can be social, and they can be meaningful additions to human happiness.
Related Topic: Individual Liberty

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Freedom of association" as of 26 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.