substantive right


: a right (as of life, liberty, property, or reputation) held to exist for its own sake and to constitute part of the normal legal order of society

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web And if so, do the substantive rights include a woman’s right to make decisions about her body, including the decision whether to continue her pregnancy? Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 5 Mar. 2020 There ought to be a discussion of what the substantive rights of citizens are. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 9 Sep. 2019 For Judge Tatel, this ruling implies only that Guantánamo detainees lack a substantive right to enter the United States. S.m. | New York, The Economist, 12 June 2019 Notice and comment procedures, in which the public is made aware of pending changes in the law and offered a chance to discuss them, typically are required when a new policy affects peoples' substantive rights and interests. Gregg Re, Fox News, 8 Aug. 2018 Unions argue that mandatory arbitration requires workers to renounce their substantive rights under federal law, but class actions are a procedural mechanism. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 1 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'substantive right.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1939, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of substantive right was in 1939

Dictionary Entries Near substantive right

Cite this Entry

“Substantive right.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Mar. 2023.

Legal Definition

substantive right

: a right arising from substantive law
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