2020 Georgia Code
Title 1 - General Provisions
Chapter 2 - Persons and Their Rights
§ 1-2-6. Rights of Citizens Generally

Universal Citation: GA Code § 1-2-6 (2020)
  1. The rights of citizens include, without limitation, the following:
    1. The right of personal security;
    2. The right of personal liberty;
    3. The right of private property and the disposition thereof;
    4. The right of the elective franchise;
    5. The right to hold office, unless disqualified by the Constitution and laws of this state;
    6. The right to appeal to the courts;
    7. The right to testify as a witness;
    8. The right to perform any civil function; and
    9. The right to keep and bear arms.
  2. All citizens are entitled to exercise all their rights as citizens, unless specially prohibited by law.

(Orig. Code 1863, §§ 1585, 1586; Code 1868, §§ 1648, 1649; Code 1873, §§ 1654, 1655; Code 1882, §§ 1654, 1655; Civil Code 1895, §§ 1808, 1809; Civil Code 1910, §§ 2165, 2166; Code 1933, §§ 79-205, 79-206.)

Cross references.

- Sentencing of defendants guilty of crimes involving bias or prejudice, § 17-10-17.

Law reviews.

- For article, "Disability Constitutional Law," see 63 Emory L.J. 527 (2014). For article, "An Essay on Illusion and Reality in the Conflict of Laws," see 70 Mercer L. Rev. 819 (2019).



  • General Consideration
  • Personal Property
  • Elective Franchise
  • Right to Hold Office
  • Courts
  • Witness
  • Exercise of Rights

General Consideration

State empowered to deny any citizen any right.

- One who is a citizen does not necessarily have the right to exercise all the rights exercised by any citizen. It is within the power of the state, by proper methods, to deny to any citizen any right. But that denial must be made by the proper authority. White v. Clements, 39 Ga. 232 (1869).

Naturalized citizen stands upon the same footing as other citizens, and the naturalized citizen has all the rights anybody has - unless it is otherwise specially provided by law. White v. Clements, 39 Ga. 232 (1869).

Rights of each race are controlled and governed by same enactments or principles of law. Smith v. Dubose, 78 Ga. 413, 3 S.E. 309, 6 Am. St. R. 260 (1887).

Mentally and physically disabled person found competent.

- Though a victim of sexual assault was mentally and physically disabled, a trial court did not abuse the court's discretion in determining that the victim was competent to testify against the defendant at the defendant's criminal trial because the trial court held a competency hearing and found that the victim understood the victim's responsibility to tell the truth and clearly knew what had happened, who had done it, and so communicated those facts, despite the victim's mental and physical disabilities. Wilson v. State, 270 Ga. App. 311, 605 S.E.2d 921 (2004).

Impact of pardon of sex offender.

- Sex offender registration requirements were held to be a legal disability and are removed by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles' order granting a pardon and removing all disabilities. State v. Davis, 303 Ga. 684, 814 S.E.2d 701 (2018).

Cited in Overton v. Gandy, 170 Ga. 562, 153 S.E. 520 (1930); Caldwell v. Hill, 179 Ga. 417, 176 S.E. 381 (1934); Patten v. Miller, 190 Ga. 123, 8 S.E.2d 757 (1940); Irwin v. Busbee, 241 Ga. 567, 247 S.E.2d 103 (1978); Hughley v. City of Thomaston, 180 Ga. App. 207, 348 S.E.2d 570 (1986); McIntyre v. Miller, 263 Ga. 578, 436 S.E.2d 2 (1993); Handel v. Powell, 284 Ga. 550, 670 S.E.2d 62 (2008); Spillers v. State, 299 Ga. App. 854, 683 S.E.2d 903 (2009).

Personal Property

Person of color has the right to a prescriptive title by adverse possession. Beatty v. Benton, 135 U.S. 244, 10 S. Ct. 747, 34 L. Ed. 124 (1890).

Elective Franchise

Party primary not within statutory and constitutional protection.

- A party primary held under the provisions of former Code 1933, § 34-3212, merely chooses candidates or nominees of a political party to be submitted to the entire electorate in the general election, and is not an "election" within the meaning of that term as used in the statutory and constitutional provisions of Georgia conferring upon its citizens the right to vote in an election; the right to participate in such a primary does not come within the protection of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the federal Constitution. Cox v. Peters, 208 Ga. 498, 67 S.E.2d 579 (1951), appeal dismissed, 342 U.S. 936, 72 S. Ct. 559, 96 L. Ed. 697 (1952) (decided prior to enactment of O.C.G.A. §§ 21-2-71 and21-2-152).

Right to Hold Office

Right to hold office is one of rights of citizen of this state which is provided by both statute and Constitution. White v. Clements, 39 Ga. 232 (1869).

Right of citizen to hold office is general rule, ineligibility the exception; a citizen may not be deprived of this right without proof of some disqualification specifically declared by law. McLendon v. Everett, 205 Ga. 713, 55 S.E.2d 119 (1949).

Negroes may hold office.

- By the Constitution of 1868, the rights of the Negro are the same as the rights of the white man. The Constitution did not make race or color a disqualification for office and, as Negroes are citizens under former Code 1868, §§ 1648, 1649 (see now O.C.G.A. § 1-2-6), it follows that they may hold office. White v. Clements, 39 Ga. 232 (1869).


No general right of access.

- In a suit challenging a court's electronic filing fee system, the trial court did not err when the court granted the motion to dismiss the plaintiff's claims under Ga. Const. 1983, Art. I, Sec. I, Para. XII and O.C.G.A. § 1-2-6(a)(6) because Ga. Const. 1983, Art. I, Sec. I, Para. XII was never intended to provide a right of access to the courts and the Georgia Supreme Court has established that there is no express constitutional right of access to the courts under the Georgia Constitution. Best Jewelry Mfg. Co. v. Reed Elsevier Inc., 334 Ga. App. 826, 780 S.E.2d 689 (2015), cert. denied, No. S16C0502, 2016 Ga. LEXIS 286 (Ga. 2016).

Forum non conveniens doctrine in federal tort cases.

- The privileges and immunities clause of the United States Constitution prohibits Georgia courts from applying the doctrine of forum non conveniens to citizens of other states who are nonresidents of Georgia in federal tort cases and declining to exercise jurisdiction of such suits brought by them. Brown v. Seaboard Coast Line R.R., 229 Ga. 481, 192 S.E.2d 382 (1972).

Because a trial court lacks discretion to dismiss a Federal Employers' Liability Act case on the ground of forum non conveniens, the trial court correctly denied the railroad's motion to dismiss the case on such grounds. Southern Ry. v. Goodman, 259 Ga. 339, 380 S.E.2d 460 (1989).

Section does not change the common law right of one spouse to sue the other. Holman v. Holman, 73 Ga. App. 205, 35 S.E.2d 923 (1945).

Action for interference with right to testify.

- An action for the recovery of damages for interference with the right to testify as a witness is one "for injuries to the person" and must be commenced within two years of the alleged interference. Carter v. Seaboard Coast Line R.R., 392 F. Supp. 494 (S.D. Ga. 1974).


Right to testify protected by Constitution.

- The right to testify as a witness is a personal right and is an adjunct or portion of the fundamental concept of freedom and liberty protected by the Georgia Constitution. Carter v. Seaboard Coast Line R.R., 392 F. Supp. 494 (S.D. Ga. 1974).

Right to testify neither unlimited or constitutionally fundamental.

- O.C.G.A. § 1-2-6 creates a statutory right to testify as a witness that is neither unlimited nor constitutionally fundamental. Ambles v. State, 259 Ga. 406, 383 S.E.2d 555 (1989).

Georgia witness competency statutes present a reasonable requirement regarding the minimal level of understanding for people participating in one of the most important functions of government and do not violate the equal protection clause. Ambles v. State, 259 Ga. 406, 383 S.E.2d 555 (1989).

State had standing to challenge Georgia witness competency statutes. Ambles v. State, 259 Ga. 406, 383 S.E.2d 555 (1989).

Subornation of perjury as an invasion of privacy.

- Evidence that a fellow employee attempted to require an employee to lie at a deposition hearing with reference to a lawsuit then in progress involving the employer interfered with the latter employee's right to testify as a witness and supported an action against that fellow employee for trespass upon the right to privacy. Troy v. Interfinancial, Inc., 171 Ga. App. 763, 320 S.E.2d 872 (1984).

Persons of color are competent witnesses in all cases. Clarke v. State, 35 Ga. 75 (1866).

Exercise of Rights

All citizens are entitled to exercise all their rights, unless prohibited by law. White v. Clements, 39 Ga. 232 (1869).


Citizen has right to hold office as general rule, ineligibility being the exception, and a citizen may not be deprived of this right without proof of some disqualifications specifically declared by law. 1979 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U79-24.

Disqualification for holding office strictly construed.

- The right to hold office unless disqualified by the Constitution and laws is one of the rights of Georgia citizens, and any purported disqualification for holding office must be strictly construed and any ambiguity resolved in favor of the citizen's right to run for and hold office. 1975 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 75-18.

City's residency requirements.

- The time during which an individual resided in an area prior to its annexation to a city is creditable towards the residency requirements for mayor and city councilman of that city. 1978 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U78-42.

Public office not barred by liquor conviction.

- A conviction of the crime of "having liquor" does not render a person disqualified from holding public office under the laws of this state. 1967 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 67-26.

Blindness alone not a bar to holding office of sheriff.

- A person otherwise possessing the qualifications to hold the office of sheriff, as specified by former Code 1933, § 24-2801 (see now O.C.G.A. § 15-16-1), may not be barred from such office because the person is blind. 1980 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U80-1.

One person may hold offices of city and probate court judge.

- There is no prohibition against one person's holding both the offices of judge of a city court and ordinary of a county (now probate court judge). 1970 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U70-60.

Councilperson keeps office after moving to different ward.

- Where a councilperson is elected from a particular ward, but by the voters of the entire city, the councilperson is not required to forfeit one's office if one moves to a different ward in the same city. 1975 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U75-39.

Deputy sheriff is not required to resign the deputy's office prior to running for sheriff. 1979 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U79-24.


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 15 Am. Jur. 2d, Civil Rights, § 1 et seq. 16A Am. Jur. 2d, Constitutional Law, §§ 607, 608. 16B Am. Jur. 2d, Constitutional Law, §§ 628, 629.


- 14 C.J.S., Civil Rights, §§ 2, 3. 16A C.J.S., Constitutional Law, §§ et seq., 699 et seq., 721 et seq., 839 et seq., 855 et seq. 16C C.J.S., Constitutional Law, § 1495 et seq., 1610 et seq., 1812 et seq., 1883 et seq. 16D C.J.S., Constitutional Law, §§ 1909 et seq., 2026 et seq., 2410 et seq.


- What businesses or establishments fall within state civil rights statute provisions prohibiting discrimination, 87 A.L.R.2d 120.

Residential swimming pool as nuisance, 49 A.L.R.3d 545.

Validity of statute imposing durational residency requirements for divorce applicants, 57 A.L.R.3d 221.

Sufficiency of courtroom facilities as affecting rights of accused, 85 A.L.R.3d 918.

Zoning: building in course of construction as establishing valid nonconforming use or vested right to complete construction for intended use, 89 A.L.R.3d 1051.

Propriety of awarding custody of child to parent residing or intending to reside in foreign country, 20 A.L.R.4th 677.

Requirement that court advise accused of, and make inquiry with respect to, waiver of right to testify, 72 A.L.R.5th 403.

When is intervention as matter of right appropriate under Rule 24(a)(2) of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in civil rights action, 132 A.L.R. Fed. 147.

Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Georgia may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.