A governments that does not protect its citizens’ natural rights can and should be replaced with one that does. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826).
No one knows if Thomas Jefferson personally uttered those words. They have been widely attributed to him, but they don’t appear in any of his writings. If he did not literally utter them, he uttered the sentiments they offer. They remind us not to take liberty for granted.
As America returns to pre-pandemic normalcy, we should think about the dangers of taking liberty for granted. This column has argued frequently that personal liberty is our birthright. It is a natural right. It doesn’t come from the government. It comes from our humanity, which is a gift from God. As God is perfectly free, so are we.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution presume that our liberties are natural and cannot be suppressed or taken away by the government absent due process.
Due process requires a notice of charges, a fair hearing with all constitutional protections at which the government must prove fault, and the right to appeal. The Constitution doesn’t grant liberty; it restrains the government from infringing upon it.
Some liberties are so essential to the pursuit of happiness that the Constitution prohibits their infringement, period — with or without due process. These are the liberties that we exercise every day — worship, speech, peaceable assembly, self-defense, privacy, ownership and use of property, commercial transactions, travel. We voluntarily establish governments to protect our liberties.
Are the governments we have established morally legitimate? They are when they have, as Jefferson wrote in the Declaration, the consent of the governed, and when they defend our liberties. Absent consent and defense of liberty, government is not legitimate.