Is Sleeping a Fundamental Right?

The Supreme Court of India has ruled sleeping is a fundamental right. The ruling comes in response to police action taken during a midnight crackdown on yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his supporters while the group was sleeping in public demonstration against the corruption of government in the previous year.

Justice Chauhan commented on the ruling:

The “right to privacy and the right to sleep have always been treated to be a fundamental right like a right to breathe, to eat, to drink, etc.”

The same Justice pointed out that, “To presume that a person was scheming to disrupt public peace while asleep would be unjust and would be entering into the dreams of that person.”

This may seem obvious and bordering on absurd, but it’s interesting to note that although India enjoys this express “right to sleep,” falling under Article 21 of their constitution covering, “Protection of life and personal liberty,” here in the U.S., we continue to fight for this seemingly fundamental, basic right.

The right to sleep does not fall under our inalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This is a debated issue for many cities in the U.S. because it bears largely on the controversy surrounding the homeless. Cities are enacting laws that step on many fundamental rights in an effort to eradicate homelessness. Towards that end, some are even seeking to evict soup kitchens and other charities that assist the homeless.

In contrast to this approach, Rhode Island has created a new law prohibiting homeless people from being treated unfairly because of their housing status. Many are hoping this will serve as a model for other cities to follow.

Efforts such as these attempt to preserve civil rights for everyone.

Should sleeping be a fundamental right? Where should the line be drawn and by whom? Share your comments below.

photo by: fluffisch