The Corner

Ron Paul or John McCain?

Drew writes in response to Andy, but ultimately me as well, in part:

Perhaps I misunderstand you, but it seems that you are implying there are no God-given human rights, that the only rights we enjoy are those we have written into the Constitution. You mention only rights “created in the Constitution.” But of course, I wasn’t speaking of those. Do the people have no others? What of those “unalienable rights” with which all men are “endowed by their creator?” James Madison only reluctantly offered a Bill of Rights because he felt there was no need for one, and his original version of what became the 9th Amendment read, “The exceptions here or elsewhere in the constitution, made in favor of particular rights, shall not be so construed as to diminish the just importance of other rights retained by the people.” Do people not retain other rights?

  George Mason, the author of the Virginia Bill of Rights, from which the federal Bill of Rights were fashioned, was one of only a few delegates who voted against the Constitution because it did not contain a bill of rights.  When the Constitution was put up for ratification by the states, there were objections in certain states because of the lack of a bill of rights, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and North Carolina.  John Adams and James Madison, among others, promised that a bill of rights would be offered, as it later was.    That said, yes, the Declaration’s embrace of God-given natural rights, as Drew notes, are universal rights.  But the Constitution is the social compact by which the American people have conferred certain limited (albeit powerful) authority on the federal government.  Drew’s view of the 9th Amendment is more akin to Ron Paul’s and therefore the Union Leader might want to reconsider its endorsement decision.  Moreover, there are state laws which might infringe on Drew’s view of the 9th Amendment.  Maybe Drew can explain how he works out conflicts between the 9th and 10th Amendments (both as to substance and process).    The manner in which we govern ourselves – that is, who has what authority and under what circumstances — is critical to the maintenance of our God-given natural rights.  But illegal immigrants do not have a God-given natural right to break our laws and emigrate here.  Nor do al-Qaeda detainees have a God-given natural right to be tried under our Constitution.  They never have.  If Drew’s opinion correctly reflects John McCain’s opinion here, then I think we need more exposition from McCain. 

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