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Natural Rights.docx

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Political Science
CAS PO 191
Judith Swanson

Question 1, Research, Natural Rights Natural Rights Natural Law • There is a certain order in nature from which humans, by use of their reason, can derive standards for human conduct • The law of reason that prevails in the absence of man-made law • Universally obligatory standards of justice; man-made laws that are in conflict with universal principles of justice are not really laws, and hence are not obligatory o “an unjust law is no law’ • Samuel von Pufendorf: (1632-1694): German; the precedence of natural law over positive law (actual or written); influenced by Hobbes • Hobbes: (1588-1679): natural law as source of international law and basis of human rights • St. Thomas Aquinas: o Summa Theologica—derive natural law from understanding of divine law revealed by God • Influence on founders of Constitutional government: o Declaration of Independence and preamble to first state constitutions of original 13 states o Constitutional issues:  Slavery controversy (1780’s-1860’s): appealed to natural law for justification for their views  1800’s opponents of strong government regulation of private business  1900’s: little influence on the decisions of Supreme Court justices  Legal protection of individuals has not been based on natural law doctrines, but on principles and precedents stemming from interpretation of the US Constitution and federal statutes Question 1, Research, Natural Rights Natural Rights • Exist by nature; human rights are a set of ideals which societies are exhorted to fulfill and which no government is to impede or abolish; apply to everyone—all persons as persons, not just members of a politically organized society (distinguished from rights guaranteed by a legal system, such as civil rights) • Original intent of the framers: “natural rights” the Constitution itself contemplates rights that lie wholly outside its text • Those “created in us by the decrees of Providence, which establish the laws of our nature. They are born within us; exist with us; and cannot be taken from us by any human power without taking our lives. In short they are founded on the immutable maxims of reason and justice.” • Madison believed that natural law embraced freedom of speech; incorporated into the Bill of Rights • NinthAmendment: an invitation to the judicial declaration of unremunerated rights, “the repository for natural rights, including the right to pursue happiness and the right to equality of treatment before the law.” • “Inalienable rights”: in the Declaration • Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: o Constitutional government is established to secure these rights o Life: inviolable; the government may not have the capacity to totally control and dispose of the lives of its members, nor may private persons, except in cases of self-defense, jeopardize another person’s life; only in extreme circumstances such as when certain criminal acts are being committed or in the case of capital punishment may the state legally use deadly force; citizens may be obligated to risk their lives in military service, but they are not obligated to intentionally give up or sacrifice their lives o Liberty: undisputed and central characteristic of the human condition; understanding that the political obligations of parents or ancestors cannot be legitimately imposed upon either their descendants or others in the political Question 1, Research, Natural Rights order; personal consent, not based on force or inheritance; individuals in US have liberty to resign from private associations and to join or form new ones, they may freely emigrate and become part of another society • Personal Liberty: Amendment IV of Bill of Rights “The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated”; private realm that public officials cannot legitimately invade • Political Liberty: Amendment I of Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”;the people of a free society have the right to participate freely, requires the flow of information/ideas/debate/assembly • Economic Liberty: Amendment V of Bill of Rights, “No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”; the right of the individual to acquire, use, transfer, and dispose of private property without unreasonable governmental interference, seek employment where one pleases, labor unions, business corporations
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