The Original Purpose of the US Constitution

Release Date
October 4, 2016

Topic

Civil Liberties Government History Liberty Rights
Description

The entire philosophy of the United States and US Constitution summed up in 93 seconds.
Professor Randy Barnett reminds us of the original purpose that the government was founded, to protect our individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
 

America’s Founding (playlist): How did America’s founding establish concepts of life, choice, and freedom? 
What are Rights? (video): Professor Aeon Skoble distinguishes such constitutional rights, such as the right to vote, from the rights protected by governments and constitutions. 
Rights (article): This article provides an excellent overview of rights, including critiques, categories, and history.

 

Dave Rubin: Is there one particular part of the Constitution that you think really nails it perfectly?
 
Randy Barnett: I’m known for having a strong affinity for the 9th Amendment to the Constitution, which says the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. That is an expressed affirmation of the retained rights, or the natural rights, of the people. That first come rights, and then comes government.
 
  The Declaration of Independence, which was the founding document of the country, it says that all people are endowed with certain inalienable rights, among which are the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Each one of those is individual rights, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The next sentence of the Declaration says, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. So it tells you, first come rights of individual, then comes government to secure these rights. The entire philosophy of the country and the Constitution are summed up in those two sentences of the Declaration.