The Edmond Sun

Opinion

September 17, 2010

Unalienable rights the core of liberty

EDMOND — God grants the rights of men, as the Founders so nobly laid out in the Declaration of Independence. No government can take unalienable rights away, without enslaving the holder.

While the Constitution and its Bill of Rights were designed to prevent the enslavement of Americans, the actions of politicians, judges and others in positions of public trust, as we have witnessed in these United States, can pervert Constitutional protections enough to render them useless and put Liberty at risk.

Sir William Blackstone, in his “Commentaries on the Laws of England,” stated, “Those rights, then, which God and nature have established, and are therefore called natural rights (unalienable rights), such as are life and liberty, need not the aid of human laws to be more effectually invested in every man than they are; neither do they receive any additional strength when declared by the municipal laws to be inviolable. On the contrary, no human legislature has power to abridge or destroy them, unless the owner shall himself commit some act that amounts to a forfeiture.” (Commentaries, 1: 93)

Blackstone tells us that no one can take these rights from us without suffering God’s justice. So these rights indeed are precious and must be protected from government encroachment. The eloquence of Thomas Jefferson’s words in the Declaration did not delineate all of our unalienable rights, when he stated, “…among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

To expand the list, using the Declaration of Independence as inspiration, we can add other unalienable rights, such as, self-government; keep and bear arms; self-defense; own, develop and dispose of property; make personal choices; a free conscience; choose a profession; choose a mate; beget one’s kind; assemble; petition; vote; free speech; free press; the fruits of one’s labors; improve one’s position through education, barter, trade; try business; buy, sell, succeed and fail in business; contrive and invent; explore the natural resources of the earth; privacy; provide nature’s necessities of air, food, water, clothing and shelter; fair trial; free association; contract; and worship, just to name a few. You can add to this list, and through research, you can find a Biblical basis for each of them.

Thomas Jefferson was familiar with these words of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, adopted by the Virginia Assembly, June 12, 1776,  just before the Declaration of Independence: “All men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.” (Annals of America, 2:432)

He echoed this sentiment in the Declaration.  

Jefferson’s phrase, “the pursuit of happiness,” was defined by John Adams when he said, “All men are born free and independent, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.” (The Political Writings of John Adams, Peak Jr., ed, p 96)

Unalienable rights are much more than, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” These God-given rights are the core of liberty.

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Poll

If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
Undecided
     View Results