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Fundamental rights often are seen to promise much: relief from grinding poverty, decent education, and non-discrimination. Yet, there is a stark difference between these ideals and the reality facing many across the world. This starting point provides a basis for exploring the nature of fundamental rights that, it is argued, are best understood as moral ideals that create the pressure for legal institutionalization. This article explores the wide-ranging implications of this conception of rights, both for the structure of rights adjudication and for the nature of the interventions—judicial or otherwise—necessary to address major challenges to the realization of socioeconomic, civil, and political rights.