Struggles for social rights – are the courts a suitable battleground? International social and economic rights are recognised as law in many countries, but often not reflected in actual jurisprudence. This article points the blame at the structure of the legal system concluding that socio-economic rights are difficult to apply in ways that comply with norms of acceptable legal reasoning and the legitimate boundaries of the legal domain. This notwithstanding, there are examples of marginalized groups litigating on social rights – and successfully so – from India, and recently from South Africa. Landmark judgements by the respective constitutional courts cover some of the central concerns associated with bringing social rights issues into the courtroom.