The Dancer in the Shadows

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Natural Rights and the United States Constitution

I stumbled across someone's writing and a notable error in the author's understanding of Rights and the United States Constitution struck me as one of the roots of some of the problems currently faced in the world today.

Contrary to what many seem to believe, the United States Constitution does not grant any Rights at all.  The Constitution, and the Bill of Rights in particular, recognizes life, liberty, communication, expression, self defense, association, privacy, etc, as Natural Rights that all humans possess and no individual or organization is justified in ever taking any of these Natural Rights away from anyone.  In fact, the Ninth Amendment fairly explicitly states this:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

A rough translation into modern American English is, "this isn't a complete list, and the government isn't allowed to step on any Natural Rights just because they weren't listed here."  For this to 'not be a complete list,' logically, the Constitution can't be granting anything, only recognizing what already exists.

What I can't answer, because I simply do not know, is how we came to a point where anyone believes the Constitution grants any rights.  I remember this as being both quite obvious from reading the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence, and later being very clearly taught in my United States history and government classes.

--- The Dancer in the Shadows

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