Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Declaration of Independence - Does It Have Legal Status?

The Declaration of Independence is one of our most famous and important documents. It is a movie star in movies such as 1776 and National Treasure. Some of us memorized all or parts of it in school. The cliche "put your 'John Hancock' here" comes from the Declaration, where John Hancock's appears larger and bolder than any other. But the Declaration is not mentioned in our Constitution, which is the document that actually empowers (AND limits) the Federal Government.

Professor A. Scott Loveless makes a good argument in the linked article below that the document has legal significance. This is important to remember, because it was the Declaration that stated the concept that our rights come from God, not from government.

Notice my previous post about the Preamble of the Constitution. I compare the strength of the several verbs that are used in it. In the Declaration it says that live is a right granted by God. It says that liberty is a right granted by God. But it does not say that happiness is a right granted by God; instead it says "the pursuit of happiness" is our right. We have a right to pursue it, but government can not (and should not try to) guarantee it.

And the fact that this important founding document establishes our rights as coming from God is central to the point of all my posts in this venue.

The Forgotten Founding Document on

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