Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Randy Barnett on the Declaration of Independence

He's got a post over at the Volokh Conspiracy explaining the basic premises of the Declaration of Indepedence.  Well worth a read on the 4th of July.  As Barnett summarizes the basic principles undergirding the Declaration:
The assumption of natural rights expressed in the Declaration of Independence can be summed up by the following proposition:  “first comes rights, then comes government.”  According to this view: (1) the rights of individuals do not originate with any government, but preexist its formation;  (2) The protection of these rights is the first duty of government; and (3) Even after government is formed, these rights provide a standard by which its performance is measured and, in extreme cases, its systemic failure to protect rights — or its systematice violation of rights — can justify its alteration or abolition; (4) At least some of these rights are so fundamental that they are “inalienable,” meaning they are so intimately connected to one’s nature as a human being that they cannot be transferred to another even if one consents to do so.  This is powerful stuff.
Indeed it is.

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