The author defends a novel philosophical thesis about the nature and foundation of moral rights. The thesis maintains that rights-claims derive their credibility from a distinctive idea of equality according to which persons are not just equally valuable but equally invaluable. The egalitarian ideal derives its normative content from widely acknowledged norms of competence that are distinguishable from and conceptually prior to the norms of rationality and morality that have exercised contemporary theorists of rational choice and justice. When its nature and foundation are appreciated, rights-based justice can be seen to be more powerful and, in an important sense, less ideological than alternative conceptions. In defending this view, the author considers how ideology corrupts thinking about justice and maintains that contemporary theorists are ideological in a sense that disqualifies them from setting credible normative standards.