Inalienable Rights

If there is one thing we learned from this year’s campaign, it’s that we have a desperate need in our country to return to the vision our Founders had of rights and of the proper role of government.

According to the Declaration of Independence, our Founders believed that governments are instituted not to create rights but to protect rights that are endowed to us by our Creator. They called those "inalienable rights" – rights that cannot be made alien or foreign to us. One writer has said inalienable rights are "those rights which would exist if there were no government." Some people today might refer to them as "human rights."

In the Declaration, the Founders specified life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as examples of these rights, but later, in the Bill of Rights, they specified more. But notice that the Bill of Rights did not grant rights; it acknowledged existing rights and said the government should not interfere with the exercise of those rights.

They didn’t require anyone to pay for anyone else’s expenses, which is the modern-day idea of rights. In fact, inalienable rights require nothing from anyone else – nothing, that is, except respect.

Our organization has published a booklet titled Governing by Principle to help you articulate this and other principles of government. To get your complimentary copy, click here, or call us at 601-969-1300.

To learn more, go to mspolicy.org.