July 23, 2024

First Come Our Rights, Then the Government

Declaration of Indepedence by David Amsler

Most Americans can recite the first part of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, or at least paraphrase it.  It is here where we read that all Men are created equal and have been given the rights of life, liberty and property not by the government, but by “their Creator”.  It is on this that our government rests—regardless of what the Supreme Court says.

It’s nice when law professors agree:

• The rights of individuals do not originate with any government, but pre-exist its formation.
• The protection of these rights is both the purpose and first duty of government.

• Even after government is formed, these rights provide a standard by which its performance is measured and, in extreme cases, its systemic failure to protect rights—or its systematic violation of rights—can justify its alteration or abolition.
• At least some of these rights are so fundamental that they are “inalienable,” meaning they are so intimately connected to one’s nature as a human being that they cannot be transferred to another even if one consents to do so.

“The political theory announced in the Declaration of Independence can be summed up… First come rights, and then comes government.”

What’s interesting is that third point, and I’m sure it’s on the minds of those in the South.  At what point do Americans that are in the majority and yet see their culture shifting to those in the minority decide that their government is invalid, much like the original colonists rejected British rule.

In reading through the book 1776 I was challenged with the idea that at first the Americans just wanted the British to give them representation and to ease their burdens, but as time went on they came to the realization that they were not going to be able to get them to wake up and went toward independence.

I’m sure the same kind of reasoning happened with the Civil War when the south decided to leave.

At what point will people in America decide that the government will not change, that they can’t use Article 5((The ability for the states or Congress to call a Constitutional Convention to get some amendments passed to change things as put forth by Mark Levin and Ted Cruz as a way to reign in the Supreme Court.)) or Article 10((The concept of Federalism where the rights not listed in the Constitution are left up to the states—the Supreme Court overrides this at will due to precedents.)) to make a change, and so they start considering taking up arms?  What will that look like?  Could we even have a Civil War type battle nowadays, or would more people lay down their arms?

I’m sure the Federal Government expects that its entitlement program money and trade will keep most states in line, but what if it doesn’t?

We live in tumultuous times.

Image: Declaration of Independence by David Amsler

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