"Unalienable Rights" -- A Civics Lesson
"Endowed by their Creator..."
A Brief Civics Lesson on the Fundamentals of Liberty
“God who gave us life gave us Liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.” –Thomas Jefferson (1774)
Just in time for the most recent celebration of what is now ubiquitously referred to as “Presidents' Day,” a CNN celebrity “journalist” Chris Cuomo, brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (both heirs to the Mario Cuomo Demo Dynasty), managed to dispense with the Declaration of Independence and its historic enshrinement of American Liberty – in a mere 10 seconds.
In Cuomo’s interview with a genuine American Patriot, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, on a Tenth Amendment (States' Rights) issue, Judge Moore stated that the “Rights contained in the Bill of Rights do not come from the Constitution, they come from God.”
Cuomo’s response provides a case study of the endowment of Liberty, and how Leftists stumble of the notion that that endowment comes from God.
Endeavoring to redefine the origin of Rights, Cuomo rebutted Judge Moore, insisting, “Our rights do not come from God, your honor, and you know that. They come from man. … That’s your faith, that’s my faith, but that’s not our country. Our laws come from collective agreement and compromise.”
I am quite sure that Judge Moore, a West Point graduate, Army captain and Vietnam veteran who later earned his JD and embarked on a law career, wanted to grab Cuomo, who has spent his entire adult life as a media talkinghead, and slap some sense into him.
Instead, Judge Moore responded thoughtfully and respectfully, paraphrasing our Declaration’s foundational assertion, which reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator [not man] with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among [not over] Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed [not the government].”
Cuomo’s knowledge of history and law is unduly limited by his Ivy League education, and unduly revisionist by his Democratic Party indoctrination. He might have a genuine perspective on history had he followed Mark Twain’s maxim: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
Allow me to offer Cuomo and his Left-elitists, an elementary civics lesson in order to answer the question, “Who endows the Rights of Man, God (as ordained in natural law) or government (as ordained by man)?”
First, Cuomo asserts, “Our rights do not come from God. … That’s your faith, that’s my faith…”
Wrong, wrong and wrong.
The first paragraph of our Declaration references “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,” which informs the words “endowed by their Creator” in the second paragraph.
To better understand what is meant by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” recall that our Declaration’s signers were not of one mind on matters of theology and doctrine. They were Christians, Deists and Agnostics, but they did, however, uniformly declare that the Rights of all people were, are and forever will be innate and unalienable, as established by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” (Notably, references to God and/or Creator are present in all 50 U.S. State Constitutions.)
This is not an article of “faith” as Cuomo assumes. It is the assertion that the right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” while enumerated in our Declaration, is inherent and irrevocably applicable to all humans of every nation, religion, race and ethnicity, for all time.
It makes no difference what your concept of “Nature’s God” or our “Creator” is, or whether you even subscribe to any such conceptualization. You, and all people, are entitled to Liberty and all the rights it embodies. Those Rights not the gift of man or the declarations and constitutions written by men. As Founder Alexander Hamilton wrote, “The sacred Rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among parchments and musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.” Indeed, the Declaration and Constitution were designed to protect those Rights, not award them.
Next, Cuomo insisted, “That’s not our country. Our laws come from collective agreement and compromise.”
Now that is an absurdly malleable heap of horse pucky. Cuomo has discounted the universal guidance of the Declaration, as if our Founders intended the Constitution as a substitute for it. Of course, it did no such thing, nor was that the intent of our Constitution’s delegation or ratification.
In that regard, I note that on the occasion of the Declaration’s 50th anniversary, James Madison (our Constitution’s principle author) wrote to Thomas Jefferson (our Declaration’s principle author), that the Constitution was subordinate to the Rights enshrined in our Declaration. Madison noted, “On the distinctive principles of the Government … of the U. States, the best guides are to be found in … The Declaration of Independence, as the fundamental Act of Union of these States.”
In other words, although the Articles of Confederation and its successor, the U.S. Constitution, were the contractual agreements binding the several states into one union – E Pluribus Unum – the innate Rights of Man identified in the Declaration are the overarching act of that union, and would never be negotiable by way of “collective agreement and compromise.”
Nor are those Rights negotiable today or tomorrow.
However, Cuomo’s conflation of Rights and laws asserts that the Rights of Man are, at any time, subject to the whims of agreement and compromise. Again, one wonders what part of “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” Cuomo doesn’t understand. Perhaps it’s the “unalienable” part, which means “unable to be taken away or transferred.”
Not only do Cuomo and his leftist ilk refuse to acknowledge that the Rights of Man are non-negotiable, but they subscribe to the errant notion of a “living constitution” – one which is subject to executive and legislative encroachment, and particularly judicial amendment by diktat, instead of its prescribed method of amendment in Article V. This enables them to undermine our Constitution’s fundamental protections of Human Rights.
Though they take solemn oaths to “to Support and Defend” our Constitution, most politicians on the Left and too many on the Right ignore that obligation, and have trampled Constitutional Rule of Law with reckless abandon. The implications for Liberty are dire.
The debate between Judge Moore and Cuomo characterizes all fundamental historical debates regarding Liberty and tyranny, between conservatives and liberals, or in contemporary political parlance, between Right and Left. Again, the core question being debated: Who endows the Rights of Man, God (as ordained in natural law) or government (as ordained by man)?
The Left’s position has been made plainly evident by Barack Hussein Obama, who has a history of deliberately and repeatedly omitting the words “endowed by their Creator” when citing in open constituent forums the Declaration’s reference to “Rights.”
Obama and other contemporary leftist protagonists seek to substitute Liberty as ensured under the Rule of Law established by our Constitution, with the rule of men in their so-called “living constitution.” They do so because the former is predicated on the principle that Liberty is innately “endowed by our Creator,” while the latter asserts that government is the sole arbiter and grantor of Liberty.
Ignorance of the true and eternal source of the Rights of Man is fertile ground for the Left’s assertion that government endows such Rights. It is also perilous ground, soaked with the blood of generations of American Patriots defending Liberty at home and around the world. Indeed, as Jefferson wrote, “The tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
Our Founders concluded our Declaration with this pledge to each other, and all who would follow: “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
Millions of fellow Patriots honor that pledge today, and stand ready to extend Liberty to the next generation.
Here endeth the lesson.
(To promote Liberty and recruit additional Patriots to our ranks, please distribute our Essential Liberty Pocket Guide to your family, friends and colleagues.)
Pro Deo et Constitutione – Libertas aut Mors
Semper Fortis Vigilate Paratus et Fidelis