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Where do our rights come from? (Part II)

By Scott Tibbs, October 15, 2008

Jack Buchanan responded in the Herald-Times to my previous commentary regarding the origins of our rights. I agree with this nation's founding fathers, who wrote that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights" when they decided to secede from England.

Buchanan argues that our rights come "from our Constitution and Bill of Rights". However, the wording of the the Constitution reveals an assumption that our rights exist independent of government. The First Amendment declares that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech", and is also forbidden from making a law abridging "the right of the people peaceably to assemble". The assumption here is that those rights exist naturally, therefore the government is forbidden from infringing on those rights.

That assumption continues in the Second Amendment, which declares "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed", and the Fourth Amendment's wording that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated."

The men who founded this nation recognized that, whether government chooses to recognize our God-given rights or not, those rights continue to exist regardless. That is why they wrote the "Bill of Rights" not to grant rights to the people, but to make it illegal for government to take those rights away. This is the beauty of our Constitution, written specifically to define and limit the power of government. The founding fathers had enough discernment to know that human beigns simply cannot be trusted, and the power of government must be limited to ensure that corrupt men do not abuse that power for their own selfish ends.