03 Sep Where Do Unalienable Rights Come From?
Understanding Our Unalienable Rights
The Declaration of Independence states that “All men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” What does it mean to have Unalienable Rights? Are these the same as Civil Rights? The answer is complicated.
Where do unalienable rights come from? Unalienable rights are rights that cannot be granted or repealed by human beings. They derive from God, not man-made laws. Examples of unalienable rights in America include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (also known as property).
This blog post will explore where our rights come from, what they are, and how they relate to other laws in America. We hope that by more clearly understanding our rights as Americans that you will be able to support and defend these same rights more effectively.
Definition of Unalienable Rights
Merriam-Webster defines unalienable as, “impossible to take away or give up“. Unalienable rights are rights that cannot be given or taken away by human beings. These rights come from God, not man-made laws. Unalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness sit alongside other civil liberties such as freedom of speech and religion – all of which are unalienable rights.
Our unalienable rights can be found directly in our Declaration of Independence: “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.”
We have been given rights by God. Our founding fathers felt it was their duty to protect them in our Constitution at all costs. Unalienable rights should be protected for future generations as well so they can enjoy the freedoms we do.
What Are Our Unalienable Rights?
Unalienable rights are those that cannot be taken away from a person under any circumstances. In the Declaration of Independence, these inalienable entitlements were set forth as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This means we have a right to live our lives free from coercion or restraint by others; it also provides for freedom from interference with personal decisions, including moral and religious beliefs.
Another important example of unalienable rights is the right to a fair trial. In this case, individuals are entitled to their day in court where they can dispute charges brought against them by others under reasonable terms. The idea behind unalienable rights is that no person or institution may abridge these freedoms for any reason.
Represented by the Bill of Rights, some examples of unalienable rights in America are freedom to assemble peacefully; free speech and press; right against self-incrimination; protection from unreasonable search and seizure; right to a speedy trial with an impartial jury if accused at criminal proceedings.
Unalienable rights are considered so important that they are protected under the U.S. Constitution, which is referred to as the supreme law of the land. If someone feels their rights have been violated by an elected official or appointed authority figure, they can challenge those authorities in court for violating constitutional laws and be compensated if successful with a judgment granting them relief from government oppression.
Examples of Unalienable Rights in America
The right to life is probably the most important of all our unalienable rights. Without it, no other liberties can be enjoyed. The next right up for discussion would have to be liberty. This is a concept that has been subject to much debate over time and one that has been fought for on many fronts.
Liberty is often defined as the freedom to do what you want, so long as it does not infringe upon other people’s rights or liberties. The right to pursue happiness is closely related to liberty because this unalienable right offers us the ability to live our lives in a manner that will lead to contentment and fulfillment.
With rights comes the responsibility to respect those of others and not infringe on their liberties or take away any of their unalienable rights. The Bill of Rights lists our most important American freedoms guaranteeing these essential human entitlements to all citizens regardless of race, gender, age, religion, or creed.
Some examples of unalienable rights in America include:
- right against self-incrimination;
- protection from unreasonable search and seizure;
- right to a speedy trial with an impartial jury;
- right to confront witnesses against them; and,
- protection from excessive bails or cruel and unusual punishments.
The Constitution only lists the rights (in the Amendments) that are necessary for a civilized society – it’s not an exhaustive list of every possible unalienable right. But these key protections should be enough to protect the liberty of every American.
The Source of Unalienable Rights in America
It is commonly believed that the Founding Fathers found their source of rights from Enlightenment philosophers, but this isn’t entirely accurate. In fact, many were Christians who saw these as God-given Rights. For example, John Locke argued that Life and Liberty are fundamental human rights that derive from inherent worth granted by “the law of nature.”
Unalienable rights were never meant to be voted away by a majority vote and they are not contingent upon the Constitution. They are inherent rights given by God that should never be taken away or ignored.
Rights like freedom of speech, press, and religion were not granted to us in the Declaration of Independence but rather established as unalienable rights endowed by our Creator.
Unalienable Rights vs. Civil Rights
So, what is the difference between unalienable rights and civil rights? Civil rights are legal rights. The difference between civil and unalienable is that unalienable rights can never be taken away. Civil rights, on the other hand, can be modified over time by the courts or other branches of government.
The term “civil right” is used to parallel the word “citizen.” A citizen is someone who by right belongs to either a nation or state. This means that there are certain rights given to specific individuals. These rights cannot be taken away from them except under extreme circumstances.
Facts Regarding Our Unalienable Rights
As our country continues to change, we must fight to defend and protect our unalienable rights. These rights are granted to us by our Creator, however, today’s culture seeks to diminish the importance of this fact. By understanding the facts surrounding unalienable rights, we can ensure that they are not wrongfully taken away.
Unalienable Rights Should Never Be Voted Away
Our Founding Fathers established in the Constitution a limited federal government with three separate branches of government. This separation of powers was designed to protect the rights given us by our Creator from being voted away by an oppressive majority or tyrannical leader.
Unalienable Rights Cannot Be Taken Away By Any President
The Constitution protects each citizen’s right against abuses by all branches of government. This includes the executive branch led by the president.
Unalienable Rights Cannot Be Taken Away By Any Judge Or Judicial Ruling
The judiciary was established to provide a check on the other two branches of government, but not to have unlimited power. The courts have limited powers. They are not able to usurp the authority that rightfully belongs with our elected representatives either in Congress or with the president who is accountable only to the voters.
Unalienable Rights Cannot Be Taken Away By Any Legislative Act
Our Constitution provides us with a system of checks and balances that no single branch can either ignore or override. When one branch tries to usurp power properly belonging to another, it’s up to the other two branches (and ultimately “We The People”) to set things right.
The courts were given limited powers. They cannot usurp the authority that rightfully belongs with our elected representatives in Congress or with the president who is accountable only to the voters. Because of this, Congressional legislation can not take away our unalienable rights. Such an act would violate the separation of powers as well as limit constitutional protections afforded to all American citizens.
How to Defend Our Unalienable Rights
While the courts are intended to protect our unalienable rights, there is no substitute for individual action. No court case can guarantee every citizen’s right to life, liberty, and happiness. We must defend our unalienable rights against those who would infringe on them or take them away altogether.
We cannot rely solely on the courts to protect us. However, there are actions that citizens can and should take to ensure their own safety from criminals as well as from a government power gone unchecked.
Unalienable Rights are the foundations of our freedoms as Americans. Knowing where these God-given rights came from can help us better understand how we were given them as well as why they should be protected at all costs.
It is important to know where unalienable rights came from. They are the foundations of the freedoms and liberties that we enjoy in America. We are blessed to live in a nation that offers and protects these rights. As Americans, and also as Christians, we must continue to educate ourselves on the rights we have been granted.