William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal


Jared Deeds


That humanity both cherishes friendship and finds it to be fundamental for its own good should be reason enough to justify its legal protection. Yet, there is a serious deficiency of legal discourse on the rights and liberties of friends in America’s courts. In the absence of such discourse—perhaps partially because of it—friendship as a social institution experiences a lack of legal protection in the United States. Though all friends may be exposed to abuses as a result of deficient safeguards, inmates and their unincarcerated friends suffer with particular severity.


Part I of this Note will further discuss the nature of friendship for the purpose of showing its personal and legal value, with particular attention paid to Aristotle’s account of friendship in Nicomachean Ethics. Part II will provide background on associational liberties pertaining to friendship protections under the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roberts v. United States Jaycees. Part II will also discuss the divisions between courts on whether Roberts actually extends associational liberty protections to friends and outline a legal argument that could be used in support of friendship protections. Part III will discuss potential legal definitions courts could use in making friendship determinations, arguing that the best definition would be found under judicial determinations using the Leib test. Finally, Part IV will analyze the available visitation and contact protections for friends in the inmate context in and beyond the scope of Overton v. Bazzetta.

This abstract has been taken from the author's introduction.