The US Constitution
A right is a power, faculty or ability inherent to ownership and incident upon another. A right is always attached to a corresponding ownership and responsibility. It must be recognized that self ownership is included in no uncertain terms.
The preamble to the U.S. Constitution states that “We the people… do ordain and establish this Constitution”. The question arises whether a people can give themselves something they already have. Stating that they can presupposes a lack qualifying ownership, responsibility or right beforehand.
It is frequently stated that the Constitution gives us rights. No such language to the effect of “this document confers X right” exists within its text.
No Constitutional Rights
The First Amendment begins with the words “Congress shall make no law…”, then it proceeds to establish what types of laws Congress shall not make. The Second Amendment emphatically states that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.
The Fourth Amendment states that “The right of the people to be secure in their houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated…” The remainder of the Bill of Rights likewise states what shall not happen as a consequence of preexisting rights.
The Constitution and Unenumerated Rights
The Ninth Amendment says, “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The Tenth Amendment reinforces this by saying, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the states and the people, respectively."
It’s impossible and even unnecessary to list every single right, such as your right to buy diet or regular Coke. However, there were concerns in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia that by creating a Bill of Rights, it would leave the impression that only the enumerated rights existed.
Rights Existed Before the Constitution
It is said that the Fourteenth Amendment gave slaves their right to freedom. What it says is that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
It is said that the Nineteenth Amendment “gave” women the right to vote. The actual text says, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.” The text of this constitutional amendment acknowledges this preexisting right as opposed to granting it.
The Twenty Fourth Amendment acts similarly in terms of the right to vote being denied on the account of a poll tax. The Twenty Sixth Amendment to the Constitution again treats those denied the right to vote on account of age in a similar manner.
The Constitution functions to protect preexisting, unalienable rights. It is the same purpose for which the Declaration of Independence was written.
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