Can You Contract Away Constitutional Rights?
The United States Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights to all citizens. These rights are enshrined in the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. But what happens when you sign a contract that seems to infringe upon these rights? Can you contract away constitutional rights?
The short answer is no. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and no contract can abrogate its provisions. This principle is enshrined in the case law of the United States Supreme Court. In West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, 300 U.S. 379 (1937), the Court held that the Constitution overrides any agreements that violate its provisions. The Court stated, “The constitutional provision is not a suicide pact. A state may, in pursuit of legitimate interests, impose certain restraints upon persons and property, yet the validity of such measures must be determined by the Supreme Law of the Land.”
In other words, the Constitution is not a document that can be ignored or set aside by contract. The Supreme Court has consistently held that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and that no private agreement can supersede its provisions. This means that if you sign a contract that seems to infringe upon your constitutional rights, that contract is not enforceable.
Of course, this does not mean that all contracts that seem to limit constitutional rights are unenforceable. Some contractual provisions may be enforceable if they are narrowly tailored and serve a legitimate purpose. For example, a contract that requires employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement may be enforceable, even if it limits the employees` freedom of speech, if the agreement is necessary to protect trade secrets or other confidential information.
Similarly, a contract that requires a party to waive its right to a jury trial may be enforceable, even though it limits the party`s right to a fair trial, if the waiver is voluntary and made knowingly and intelligently. However, even in these cases, the Constitution still serves as a baseline for determining the validity of the contract.
In conclusion, the answer to the question “Can you contract away constitutional rights?” is no. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and no contract can abrogate its provisions. While some contracts may limit certain constitutional rights, these limitations must be narrowly tailored and serve a legitimate purpose. Any agreement that infringes upon the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution is unenforceable.