Saturday, August 1, 2020

The U.S. Constitution is About Individual, Not ‘Human’, Rights

In an otherwise informative article, Celebrate the 14th Amendment. It works hard to protect your freedom by John Atkins of the Dallas Morning News, Atkins writes:

This month 150 years ago, Secretary of State William Seward announced that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution had been ratified. The 14th Amendment is, despite its late addition to the Constitution after the Civil War, a foundational document of our Republic.

The due process and equal protection guarantees therefore belong to a category of rights beyond the civil and political — they are human rights that every level of government is bound to respect.

I think that, inadvertently or intentionally, Atkins makes a crucial error when he uses the term "human rights" instead of individual rights. When referring to the Declaration of Independence, he does mention "rights", but never individual rights. In fact, the term individual rights appears nowhere in the article, which is incredible in a discussion devoted the the U.S. Constitution. 

I think there is an important distinction between human rights and individual rights. “Human rights” is a collectivist term, and can be used to describe "rights" of groups at the expense of individuals. But there are no group rights independent of the rights of individuals. Individuals may grant a group the power to represent one of each member’s individual’s rights, on a limited, contractual, mutually agreed basis. But the idea that groups have rights independent of individual rights negates individual rights, and thus the whole purpose and justification of the U.S. Constitution.

So let's be clear: The United States Constitution protects individual rights, and only individual rights--rights that are considered inalienable. 

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