American Political Philosophy – Episode 2

Pre-Existing Laws give rise to God-given, inherent, and Unalienable Rights!

So, in our last blog we talked about societies that believe there is such a thing as pre-existing laws. These types of societies embrace the belief that even sovereigns were accountable to the law, and that certain fundamental liberties existed that could not be trampled upon, not even by a King. These would be rights that all men inherently possessed.

We as Americans need to look no further than the document that created us as a nation, our Declaration of Independence to see whether or not our Founding Fathers accepted pre-existing laws. “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 signers then went on to explain that the purpose and function of government was inextricably tied to the protection of such fundamental rights. “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men,” making it clear that a belief that certain laws not only pre-exist government, but that adherence to those principles is in fact the proper role and function of government.

While the Declaration did present some examples of unalienable rights that are to be at all times protected, including both the right to life as well as the right to liberty & the pursuit of happiness, it mentions them as being among certain unalienable Rights, meaning this list is not exhaustive. When we understand this and the thoughts of the founders that we had unalienable rights to free exercise, or to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience, the right to free speech without the fear of being found guilty of seditious libel, etc, then we see that they knew the Government did not provide us with the Bill of Rights, rather, these were rights we possessed over which the government could not impede.

No question, our Founding Fathers believed that there were such things as pre-existing law and that it was not only our duty to ascertain them, but to make sure that they were secured. Accordingly, since they believed in the supremacy of law, then the next question to answer is would they have deemed us a Rex Lex society or a Lex Rex, or to put it another way, an empire of men, or an empire of laws?

 

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