The word “Entitle” used to mean: to give a title; “entitled” was: to be dignified thereby. @
When did the term “entitled” come to mean “deserving of the labor of another”? I’d guess… when “welfare” came to mean the same thing. @
In the truest sense, we are “entitled” by God, by nature, with life and liberty; “entitlements” on earth that are not absolute. @
Entitled, as being distinguished, or as having claim, presupposes merit, or honor, or Grace. @
Following are early American understandings of “entitle”. Interesting that the form “entitlement” is absent.ENTI’TLE, v.t. [L. titulus, a title.]
~from Websters 1828 Dictionary.
1. To give a title to; to give or prefix a name or appellation; as, to entitle a book, Commentaries on the laws of England.
2. To superscribe or prefix as a title. Hence as titles are evidences of claim or property, to give a claim to; to give a right to demand or receive. The labor of the servant entitles him to his wages. Milton is entitled to fame. Our best services do not entitle us to heaven.
3. To assign or appropriate by giving a title.
4. To qualify; to give a claim by the possession of suitable qualifications; as, an officer’s talents entitle him to command.
5. To dignify by a title or honorable appelation. In this sense, title is often used.
6. To ascribe.
Dignified or distinguished by a title; having a claim as, every good man is entitled to respect.
~from John Ash’s 1775 Dictionary (imaged)
Enti’tled (p. from entitle)
To give a claim to any thing, to grant as claimed by a title; to prefix a title; to dignify with a title.
Enti’tling (p. a. from entitle)
Having a title, dignified with a title, having a claim; with to: as, “He was entitled to any favour.”
Giving a title, giving a claim.
Michael Smolensky (@smolenskylaw) said:
I appreciate and understand your perspective. I like the association you made between the meaning of the word “entitled” and “property.” Indeed, the usage of “entitlement” with respect to “welfare” is based on property law principles.
As you know the Fifth Amendment guarantees, “No person . . . shall be deprived of life, liberty, or *property*, without due process of law.” See also U.S. Const. amend. XIV.
Property law and many of its terms derives from England, during the time of the nobility who owned land and peasants who did not own land. Property law recognizes various transfers of land. The following paragraphs will illustrate one category of transfers.
An individual with unconditional title to real property is considered to hold the property in “fee simple absolute.” The title holder has the right to improve and sell the land, as well as some duties. Among other things, one with fee simple absolute may rent the property.
The landowner with unconditional title to real property transfers unconditional title to another in a written document that, in addition to other contractual terms, says, “…from A to B….” This language is important in Property Law. It means “A” transfers title in fee simple absolute to “B.” In order to overcome suspicions of fraud, the transfer of the real property must be based on the satisfaction of various conditions by “B.” In this way, B becomes “entitled” to the rights associated with the real property.
In Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970), the U.S. Supreme Court applied property law principles to welfare. The case involved a welfare recipient who was terminated from the rolls without a hearing.
With reference to the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court began with the proposition that the requirements of Procedural Due Process prohibits states from denying a person of “property” without a hearing. The court reasoned that one must satisfy objective statutory criteria in order to qualify for welfare. The Court reasoned this relationship between the individual and the state is similar to a transfer of fee simple absolute “from A to B.” Similar to B in the transfer of real property, the court reasoned the qualified welfare recipient has a “legitimate claim of entitlement,” In this respect, the relationship between the welfare recipient and the State is strikingly similar to the relationship between B and A.
The usage of the term “entitlement” probably became popular somewhere along the line. The labels, however, are not important. It is the legal underpinning that matters.
I hope this sheds a little light on the topic.
Wow. Never imagined someone would actually answer the question, but I appreciate your time in doing so, nonetheless. Very interesting, by the way, and not surprising…
Except to say, it’s striking to me how in the world such a thing came before the Supreme Court in the first place. If a kind soul were helping me out in a pinch, and suddenly said “I can’t (or won’t) help you any more”, well then I’d say “Thanks for what you’ve done for me”… and I wouldn’t think to say “I’m taking your backside to court to get what I’m entitled to!” But that’s just me.
Similarities, however remarkable, do not make an exact likeness, and the law in my humble opinion should know better. But I’m not a lawyer of course.
Aside from what you expanded on, as to the labels, they are at the crux of this little study, in that their redefining is consequential. Take “welfare” for example, which has come wholesale to be known in the context of your comment. Hand a person the Constitution for the first time, without any qualification, and they will conclude by the first paragraph that a primary object of the document is the secure their right to government “charity”. And if a man could be newly brought to an interest in our founding, what first impressions might he glean from the writings of that time, with today’s lexicon in mind. I know, it is what it is, but what is doesn’t always come to be by chance.
…starting to ramble…
Michael Smolensky (@smolenskylaw) said:
I agree in general with your illustration about a private gift of help from another person. Much of what takes place in court is driven by a hard nosed, common sense analysis of the facts and the law. This is because lawsuits and courts are adversarial. In practical terms, an absence of common sense causes one to be the object of ridicule.
If the beneficiary of a private gift were to sue the benefactor whose fortunes had changed for the worse, then I believe the case would be laughed out of court. Although it appears we agree on this point, none of it plays a role in the analysis at issue in Goldberg v. Kelly. This is because welfare is distinguishable from a private gift.
In Goldberg v. Kelly, the government acted arbitrarily because it terminated the welfare benefits without providing a process. This is arbitrary action. The following will explain why arbitrary government action presents a legal problem for the government.
The Constitution is frequently invoked in political discussion and debate. That is what Justice Story was talking about in the quote you retweeted. He was criticizing legislators who were making up rules about the Constitution to justify the laws and policies they wanted to enact.
The Constitution is more than a political document. It is the law that governs the government. It is the reason we say the United States of America is a nation of laws, not of men.
We as Americans are blessed with many rights. Among other things, we have the right under the 5th and 14th Amendment to a Federal and State government that does not rule over us arbitrarily. If our government is going to act in a way that affects any individual’s life, liberty, or property, then the government must provide a process. The process must consist of notification to the parties, and an opportunity to be heard as to the dispute.
In Goldberg v. Kelly, the government did not provide the process. But before finding the State had acted arbitrarily, the Court had to determine whether the complaint implicated “life, liberty, or property.” My previous post attempted to explain the Court’s reasoning for finding welfare qualifies as “property.”
I know these things probably seem abstract. They are legal concepts. Nevertheless, I hope this helps a little more.
Personally speaking, when I was in law school, I was in the minority because I found Justices Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Roberts to be more persuasive than the others. These justices tend to interpret the law based on original intent. It seemed most of my professors leaned in the opposite direction.
Have a nice night.
Oh I have no quarrel with you, and fully understand that you are teaching me something (for free, I think :] ). Besides, any friend of the Constitution as originally intended… well, you know. Frankly, the Constitution is all I (we) have by which to gauge the acts of government, and for that alone it is truly more than just a political document.
Funny, I thought I’d coined the phrase “The Constitution is the governor of government”, but you’re at least the second I’ve heard use a variation of it since. :]
Michael Smolensky (@smolenskylaw) said:
All is cool. :-) If you have not already, I recommend checking out the writings of Philip Bobbitt. He is an academic, and his writings were important when I took Constitutional Law in school. He identified about 5-6 modalities of constitutional analysis that appear in the opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts.
You would probably also like Justice Antonin Scalia. He has written books about Originalism, and you can also find many recordings on the CSPAN website of him. He is also an engaging speaker. You will feel as though you are being educated, not lectured to or indoctrinated.
Are you familiar with the website for The Volokh Conspiracy (http://www.volokh.com/)? If you have not already been there, you might like it. All the contributing authors are exceedingly intelligent. If compelled, you may post a comment, and the authors may engage with you there.
Finally, you may be familiar with http://www.regulations.gov. It is a government web site where visitors can view all the pending agency regulations. If the posting is a proposed rule, then members of the interested public can submit comments for the agencies to consider when formulating the rule. Under the Administrative Procedure Act, the agency must take all the comments into account when promulgating the final rule. I say all this while at the same time aware of the all too common “dog-and-pony-show” aspect of government affairs. Nevertheless, it provides a way for ordinary people to participate in the actions of our federal government.
Mike, WordPress earlier tagged/delayed your comment for moderation, I think based on a two-link rule. Just FYI.
Anyway, thank you very much for the references, and your time here. I’ll dig in as time allows (it never allows enough). Justice Scalia deserves more of my attention. The rest is new to me (I think). There is such a wealth and richness of information to be had at our fingertips, that it can be overwhelming, really, especially to those of us with the otherwise paying gig and mouths to feed. But no complaint, better the access to more than we can know, than ignorantly being led by the nose.