What are your individual rights? And more importantly, where do they come from?
Simply put, your individual rights are your inherent rights as a human being! Our Founding Fathers in the U.S. Declaration of Independence declared “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Declaration of Independence had a significant influence on the the U.S. Constitution and its group of constitutional amendments called the Bill of Rights. The Declaration is in large part a summary of the principles expressed in more detail in the Bill of Rights. When we refer to the “Constitution” on this website, by definition this includes the Bill of Rights.
Several really important points to ponder:
The U.S. Constitution was crafted by the founders of the U.S. government. It is indeed a very important document, but it is just a piece of paper!
Your rights do not come from the Constitution! If they did, it would mean they come from the government. Anything the government gives you, it can take away — today, or in the future.
But through the Declaration and U.S. Constitution, the Founders and “We, the people” declare that all rights belong inherently to each of us as individuals. The Founders had some very specific thoughts about where our rights come from. They DO NOT come from government!
The Bill of Rights is important. It documents some of our individual rights so that the people will know if and when a government is attempting to infringe upon them. Therefore it is CRITICAL that people know these documented rights. Otherwise they will not be able to recognize an infringement. So here’s a quick test: without peeking, name the five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Ready? Go!
Here’s the list:
- Freedom of religion
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of the press
- The right to assemble peaceably
- The right to petition the government (complain)
How many did you know?
Sadly, only 10 percent of American adults know that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press. And fully 33 percent of Americans have no idea at all what rights the First Amendment guarantees! 
The Second Amendment articulates your inherent right to to keep and bear arms, to protect your life and your family’s lives, and so on.
The Founders made it very clear that what’s captured in the Bill of Rights is not a complete list of individual rights. The list of rights belonging to the people would have been WAY too long to write down. To make it absolutely clear that the the rights set forth in the Constitution were NOT to be considered a limitation of INDIVIDUAL rights, the Ninth Amendment was crafted:
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”[/pullquote]
In an effort to prevent government overreach, the Founders made a very short list of powers specifically delegated to the government. These “enumerated powers” are a list of items found in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.
To make it absolutely clear that the government was to be limited to the enumerated powers, the Tenth Amendment states:
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people”[/pullquote]
We must all understand one CRITICALLY IMPORTANT point: the PEOPLE have inherent, God-given RIGHTS! The GOVERNMENT has limited and very specific POWERS which are delegated to it by the people! Why is this so important? Because the people need to know that the U.S. Constitution declares that governments HAVE NO RIGHTS! Zip, zilch, nada — NONE! They only have the powers that we, the people, delegate (not GRANT) to them. We, the people have the RIGHT TO TAKE THEM BACK WHEN GOVERNMENTS BECOME ABUSIVE!
Here are a few simple questions and answers that may help illustrate some of the key points discussed above:
- Question: do you have the right to protect your life and your family’s lives when threatened by thugs or by an out-of-control government?
- Answer: of course you do, otherwise you’d live at the pleasure of the thugs or abusive government!
- Question: where does this right come from?
- Answer: it comes from God and/or is an inherent right. It does NOT come from the government.
- Question: does anyone (or any entity) have the right to take someone else’s rights away?
- Answer: No. Through the rule of law, the people delegate certain powers to the government to suspend an individual’s rights under special circumstances (i.e. a murderer). But every individual retains their God-given rights. This is why we are not a democracy ruled by the opinion of the majority. We are a constitutional republic, which guarantees the rights of the minority or the individual!
Your rights come with responsibility! Simply put, you do not have the right to infringe on the rights of your neighbor! Let’s briefly discuss “soft rights” vs. “God-given rights”.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Traditional common law rights, such as the right against trespass, are typically negative. They tell government what it cannot do. Soft rights, such as the right to healthy air, are typically positive. They tell government what it must do.” In practice, judges–unelected, unaccountable and inexpert–often dictate what it must do. [/pullquote]
To illustrate: do you have the right to a house, a fair wage, education or even healthcare? If you say “yes”, then you advocate using personal or collective coercion to take away certain rights from others:
- The person who is forced to build or pay for your house
- People who are forced to pay additional taxes to give you what you believe to be a fair wage
- A doctor who now has to provide you a mandated service using the time and training he invested in and paid for
According to the Declaration, the people have “…certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The people have the right to pursue these things themselves, NOT to demand them from others.
In the end, we must fight for and protect our individual rights. When we abdicate them or let our government steal them, we accelerate down a slippery slope to tyranny!