The government often tries to control people's behavior by the way it hands out benefits. The most common objection to this practice is that it violates the rights of beneficiaries.' I want to make a simple observation about these "rights" cases. We used to treat the violation of rights as a question about the government's power. Now we treat it as a question about the government's duty. This shift in perspective is an important change. If we attend to it, we will be less perplexed by the problem of unconstitutional conditions. Though my point is simple, I will go to some length in making it. First, I will explain the old viewpoint - the focus on the powers of government. Next, I will explain the new one - the duties of government. Finally, I will point out how the shift from power to duty helps us solve some issues that arise in benefits cases.
John H. Garvey, The Power and the Duties of Government, 26 SAN DIEGO L. REV. 209 (1989).