Sec.14. Another important personal right comprehended in the term personal liberty, and guarantied in the same article of the national constitution, and in the state constitutions, is the liberty of speech and of the press. Some of the monarchical governments of Europe prohibited the people from speaking against the sovereign or his government. Books and papers could not be published until they had been examined and approved. The persons authorized to examine the manuscripts, were called censors. Hence the expression sometimes heard, “censorship of the press.” To secure the liberty of speaking and publishing their sentiments freely up on all subjects, the people of this country have made express provision in their constitutions; which, however, while they properly guaranty this right, leave men “responsible for its abuse,” and liable to prosecution for slander or libel. (Sec.7, 8.)
Sec.15. The right of property is the right to acquire property, and to be free in the use and enjoyment of it. To protect men in the enjoyment of this right, is one of the principal objects of constitutions and laws. The rights of property will constitute the subject matter of several subsequent chapters of this digest of “common and statutory law.” (Chap. L, and onward.)
Domestic Relations. Husband and Wife.
Sec.1. To render a marriage contract lawful, the parties must be of sufficient age, called the age of consent; which, by the common law of the land, is fourteen years in males, and twelve in females. In some states the age of consent has been altered by statute. In Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, it has been raised to eighteen years in males, and fourteen in females; in Illinois to seventeen and fourteen; in Wisconsin, to eighteen and fifteen.
Sec.2. The parties must also have sufficient understanding to transact the ordinary business of life. Idiots and lunatics cannot legally contract marriage. Persons must also act freely. If the consent of either party has been obtained by force or fraud, the marriage may be declared void. The parties must not be nearly related. The degrees of relationship at which they are forbidden to marry are in some states fixed by law; but the laws of these states on the subject are not uniform. Some states have forbidden marriages which come within what is called the Levitical degrees; but these degrees have received different interpretations. According to the interpretation of some, the relation of uncle and niece and aunt and nephew, come within this rule.
Sec.3. No person can lawfully remarry who has a wife or husband living. Such second marriage is, by the common law, null and void. In some of the states, perhaps in most of them, it is declared polygamy, and a state prison offense, except in certain cases; as when the husband or wife of the party who remarries has been long absent, and the party re-marrying does not know the other to have been living within the time; or when the former husband or wife of the party remarrying has been sentenced to imprisonment for life; or when the former marriage has been lawfully annulled or dissolved. If, however, a marriage has been annulled or dissolved for the cause of adultery, the criminal party is, in some states at least, not allowed to remarry.