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The “Air Bud” Principle

The “Air Bud” Principle

July 9, 2019 9:00 am0 comments

The “Air Bud” principle, from the 1997 classic Disney movie Air Bud, is the argument that something is legal because it is not explicitly illegal. It comes from that famous line: “Ain’t no rule says a dog can’t play basketball.”

I’m surprised I don’t hear this being referenced often, because it is a cornerstone of constitutional limited federal republics. After all, the entire premise of our constitution is that it specifically grants certain powers to the government and those powers and rights not reserved to the federal government are reserved to the states or the people. This is a built in Air Bud defense: if it isn’t illegal, it better be legal.

Free countries tend to follow this general principle. Totalitarian countries have very different laws: if it’s not expressly permitted, it is presumed to be forbidden.

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