Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Was Asked If The Questioner Has "A Constitutional Right To Life, Liberty And The Pursuit Of Happiness"

The following is my abbreviated email answer.

The Declaration of Independence is not part of the Constitution, no matter how the former’s principles may have influenced the latter. (Jefferson’s explicit reference to a/the “Creator” was understandable, though unfortunate.)

The Constitution delegates power from “We the People” to the federal government.

Unfortunately, it is not a perfect document.

Its flaws included recognition of slavery, conscription—and, per the objections of many at the time, no explicit recognition of rights.

The latter problem was mostly rectified in the Bill of Rights.

Then came John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison, establishing judicial review, by itself not a bad thing. (Like pasta is by itself not a bad thing, unless you eat too much.)

Then came two things, especially in the Twentieth Century: (1) Roosevelt’s New Deal, and (2) the “Living Constitution” philosophy—each rooted in Ayn Rand’s trilogy of altruism-statism-collectivism.

Now I get to my answer to your original question, “Do I [you] Have A Constitutional Right To Life, Liberty And The Pursuit Of Happiness?”

For openers, a government (i.e., an organized group of people holding a monopoly on the use of physical force) can only do two things regarding “rights”—recognize them or violate them.

Thus, the Constitution delegates power to the federal government, the first nine amendments seek to restrain that power by recognizing rights (enumerated 1-8 and unenumerated 9), and acknowledges that the powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states or the people (10).

Unfortunately, the courts, especially the Supreme Court of the United States, has perverted much of this arrangement because most of the justices have been altruists-collectivists-statists, and thus validated that sort of legislation coming out of Congress and that sort of conduct coming out of the executive branch.

Thus, in my earlier answer to your question, I distinguished between power and right. I said that the federal government today has the power (e.g. Roe, TARP—and on and on), as do the states (e.g., marriage, divorce—and on and on) but not the right. My use of the word “power” should not have been construed by you as approval, only as a recognition that that’s how it is. Government’s possession and exercise of its mostly appropriately delegated powers should not be confused with its usurped, judicially-approved powers—virtually all of which violate rights.

So, I have not said, as you say I did, that “the Constitution gives the Federal Government power over my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness,” though today’s government does, but not because of the Constitution. Indeed, thanks to Congress and the courts, in spite of the Constitution.

You say that your “copy of the Constitution may not contain the latest additions and revisions.” That’s correct, but you’re looking in the wrong place. You should look at the judicial annotations.



[See for further elaboration]