In the last decades, a global model of constitutional rights has emerged which is characterised by an extremely broad approach to the scope of prima facie rights combined with proportionality and balancing analysis at the justification stage. But while this model has continuing global success in judicial practice, it is still insufficiently theorised. This paper presents a substantive moral theory of one of its core features, namely the idea of balancing. It demonstrates that ‘balancing’ means different things in different contexts, depending, first, on the nature of the policy as redistributive, providing public goods and services, or regulating harmful or risky behaviour and, second, on the specific relationship which the policy creates between the right-holder and the beneficiary of the policy. It thus explores and lays bare the considerable complexity that hides under the convenient doctrinal label of ‘balancing’ and develops a workable theory of how this balancing ought to be conducted in the resolution of real cases.