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Pursuit of Happiness

Rockville Center, NY |

How can a municipality take over a natural resource such as the beach, charge people to use it and make rules that impede one's fair use of the resource and which do not necessarily coincide with general law such as state and federal laws. Why can I not set foot in the water when a life guard is not present? Yet on many State and Federal Beaches, I can. I am being protected against my will and unnecessarily. I feel that my constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness has been restricted unfairly. This trend is leading to the fact that a human being, cannot enjoy the natural world around him, which is his birthright, without the permission, fees and rules of government which now says they own it.

Attorney Answers 5


  1. You raise some interesting concerned, I don't see an actual question.

    (1) I may be guessing. Do not act or rely upon this info; (2) We have not established an attorney-client relationship; and (3) If you insist I tell you something upon which you can actually rely: don't eat yellow snow.


  2. Towns can restrict access from the land to beaches and charge for same. Check local rules. Consitutional argument will not override local rules.

    If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or www.mynewyorkcitylawyer.com.


  3. Your question is really more philosophical then a legal question. While you may feel various laws restrict your rights or your ability to engage in the "pursuit of happiness", government can and does regulate to protect the public's peace, health and safety. It's part of the price we pay to live in a civilized society.

    THESE COMMENTS MUST NOT BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE. Comments made on websites such as Avvo.com are provided for information purposes only. The only way to determine how the law may apply to your particular situation is to consult with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.


  4. At the risk of offending you, may I suggest that you enroll in a high school civics class and reacquaint yourself with the U.S. Constitution, the rule of law, and reality. Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution give you a constitutional right to pursue happiness -- the word "happiness" is not in the Constitution. I suspect you are referring to the Declaration of Independence which conveys no legal rights on anybody (it was a document declaring independence from Great Britain, but it is not a part of U.S. law, in part because the United States of America was not established until 1781 with the radification of the short-lived Articles of Confederation -- an agreement among the 13 founding states that established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution until 1789).

    Neither you nor I have any right to use a public beach with impunity. A city certainly as the right -- and, indeed, the obligation -- to assure the safe use of the beach which includes establishing hours and allowing patrons to enter the water only when a lifeguard is present. Imagine the outcry if a lifeguard was never present and somebody drowned whom a lifeguard could have saved.

    And if land is not under private ownership, it tends to be under public ownership. I fear that the public relations success of the "know-nothing" radical right wing has led to many people not understanding how our nation was set up. Ignorance of the facts and the law is no excuse.

    The information provided in the question posed is not complete enough to provide accurate legal advice. More details are needed to really guide the questioner. My response is not intended to be taken as legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


  5. The pursuit of happiness, whatever it may be, most assuredly does not occur in any court of law, and I counsel you to stay clear of all such institutions in this endeavor.

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