Fundamental rights are usually defined as the absolute rights that a citizen of a country possesses that cannot, under the majority of circumstances, be taken from the citizen. Sometimes, the term is used more loosely with a suggestion that all people have basic or human rights to which they should be entitled. From a legal standpoint, these rights are mainly those stated in legal rulings or region laws, though sometimes certain rights are thought so basic they’re inferred.
Many countries state the rights of their citizens. The US is an example of this, and the Bill of Rights and Amendments to the Constitution, like the 14th Amendment, make some of the fundamental rights of citizens very clear. These basic rights include freedom of speech and press, the right to expedient trials, freedom of religion, and the right to assemble. Freedom from discrimination and right to vote are other provisions.
While these rights are explicitly written, there are some that may be considered even more fundamental from a legal prospective, though open to interpretation by judicial ruling. The right to refuse medical treatment to a child if it goes against a person’s religion, such as Jehovah’s Witness parents refusing blood transfusions for their children, is a challenging subject but will usually be thought a right of the parent. Another potential fundamental right is to raise children in an unconventional manner, provided there is no abuse.
There are arguments that courts should view other rights as fundamental, such as the right to marriage among same-sex partners. An argument is often made that rights are fundamental, even if not stated, if most people have them. The right to marriage appears to be such a right, and yet does not apply to people of the same gender in most US states.
Interesting precedent exists in US federal and state courts when a right appears fundamental but cannot be won by vote. Desegregation of schools in some parts of the South had to be achieved through court order instead of by voting. The courts can become strongly involved in granted these additional rights thought fundamental because they can deem that part of society will continue to refuse to grant them. A similar decision was made with Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion.
Courts, on case-by-case rulings, often interpret other implicit fundamental rights that may not get much attention in country constitutions. Rights to be safe, rights not to be harassed, rights to live free of pollution, or rights for children to not be subject to bullying are often thought to be foundational, underscoring rights to freedom. The difficulty is in interpretation because, with only an implicit understanding that some rights are fundamental, decisions made by courts can either be stalled for years by other courts that object. Rulings may also be overturned, even if they expand rights.