The Left is Wrong About Rights

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The Left is Wrong About Rights

God who gave us life gave us lib­erty. Can the lib­er­ties of a nation be secure when we have removed the con­vic­tion that these lib­er­ties are the gift of God?”

Thomas Jef­fer­son
Engraved on the wall of the Jef­fer­son Memorial

That to secure these rights, Gov­ern­ments are insti­tuted among Men, deriv­ing their just pow­ers from the con­sent of the governed.”

Thomas Jef­fer­son
The Dec­la­ra­tion of Independence

There are two impor­tant things to note about the rights guar­an­teed us by the Con­sti­tu­tion. The first is that the Con­sti­tu­tion doesn’t “grant” us any rights. Instead, it speaks of rights already in exis­tence (unalien­able and endowed by our cre­ator, accord­ing to the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence) and explic­itly pro­hibits the gov­ern­ment from infring­ing on those rights. The sec­ond is that each of the rights explic­itly spelled out in the Con­sti­tu­tion is personal.

Lib­er­als tend to talk about rights in terms of what oth­ers must give you: a “liv­ing wage,” health care, hous­ing, or even an abor­tion. These lib­eral “rights” get things exactly back­wards. The only way one per­son can have a right to some­thing that some­one else must pro­vide is for the provider to be forced to pro­vide it, regard­less of his consent.

The lib­er­als on the Supreme Court, in Whole Women’s Health v. Heller­st­edt, recently struck down the eminently-​sensible Texas law that ensured safe con­di­tions for women seek­ing abor­tions. Their “rea­son­ing” was that the law unrea­son­ably restricted women’s access to abor­tions. Let’s think about that log­i­cally for a moment. The Supreme Court, cit­ing a “right” that is not men­tioned any­where in the Con­sti­tu­tion, has said that it is uncon­sti­tu­tional to restrict a woman’s access to abortion.

Let’s do a thought exper­i­ment. Sup­pose that all the abor­tion­ists in the coun­try sud­denly decided to move to Aus­tralia. Or, in an unfor­tu­nately less-​likely sce­nario, let’s sup­pose that every abor­tion­ist sud­denly devel­oped a con­science and real­ized that they had been mur­der­ing inno­cent chil­dren and repented, refus­ing to per­form any more abor­tions. Could any­thing restrict a woman’s access to abor­tion more than that? What then of this sup­posed “right” for a woman to get an abor­tion? Is it really pos­si­ble that the Supreme Court, or Con­gress, or even a State Leg­is­la­ture could some­how pro­hibit this mass-​exodus of abor­tion­ists? I can just see Anthony Kennedy and Elena Kagan at JFK air­port look­ing for that last abor­tion­ist and tack­ling him before he can board that last flight out. The log­i­cal con­clu­sion is that the sup­posed “right” to abor­tion is no right at all.

Is there a “right” to hous­ing? How can that pos­si­bly be when some­one must build the house? And who decides what kind of house? Do you have the right to three bed­rooms or only two? A cape in the sub­urbs or a brown­stone in the city? If you have the right to a “liv­ing wage,” who decides what that is? How hard do you have to work to receive it? How good do you have to be at your job? Does a “liv­ing wage” include cable TV and a cell phone?

It sim­ply can­not be that any­one can have a right to some­thing that some­one else must pro­vide. The truth is that lib­er­als are not inter­ested in rights as our founders under­stood them. They invent “rights” for one of two rea­sons. Either they are try­ing to force peo­ple to behave a cer­tain way or they are try­ing to buy votes from peo­ple who care more about what gov­ern­ment can give them than pro­tect­ing them­selves against what gov­ern­ment can do to them. Any­one who sup­ports this approach can­not claim to “sup­port and defend the Constitution.”


A note from DaT­e­chGuy: I hope you enjoyed Tech Knight’s piece. Remem­ber we will be judg­ing the entries in Da Mag­nif­i­cent try­outs by hits both to their post and to DaTip­Jar. So if you like Tech Knight’s work, please con­sider shar­ing this post, and if you hit DaTip­jar because of it don’t for­get to men­tion Tech Knight’s post as the rea­son you did so. If you missed his last piece, it’s here




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“God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed the conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”

Thomas Jefferson
Engraved on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Thomas Jefferson
The Declaration of Independence

There are two important things to note about the rights guaranteed us by the Constitution. The first is that the Constitution doesn’t “grant” us any rights. Instead, it speaks of rights already in existence (unalienable and endowed by our creator, according to the Declaration of Independence) and explicitly prohibits the government from infringing on those rights. The second is that each of the rights explicitly spelled out in the Constitution is personal.

Liberals tend to talk about rights in terms of what others must give you: a “living wage,” health care, housing, or even an abortion. These liberal “rights” get things exactly backwards. The only way one person can have a right to something that someone else must provide is for the provider to be forced to provide it, regardless of his consent.

The liberals on the Supreme Court, in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, recently struck down the eminently-sensible Texas law that ensured safe conditions for women seeking abortions. Their “reasoning” was that the law unreasonably restricted women’s access to abortions. Let’s think about that logically for a moment. The Supreme Court, citing a “right” that is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, has said that it is unconstitutional to restrict a woman’s access to abortion.

Let’s do a thought experiment. Suppose that all the abortionists in the country suddenly decided to move to Australia. Or, in an unfortunately less-likely scenario, let’s suppose that every abortionist suddenly developed a conscience and realized that they had been murdering innocent children and repented, refusing to perform any more abortions. Could anything restrict a woman’s access to abortion more than that? What then of this supposed “right” for a woman to get an abortion? Is it really possible that the Supreme Court, or Congress, or even a State Legislature could somehow prohibit this mass-exodus of abortionists? I can just see Anthony Kennedy and Elena Kagan at JFK airport looking for that last abortionist and tackling him before he can board that last flight out. The logical conclusion is that the supposed “right” to abortion is no right at all.

Is there a “right” to housing? How can that possibly be when someone must build the house? And who decides what kind of house? Do you have the right to three bedrooms or only two? A cape in the suburbs or a brownstone in the city? If you have the right to a “living wage,” who decides what that is? How hard do you have to work to receive it? How good do you have to be at your job? Does a “living wage” include cable TV and a cell phone?

It simply cannot be that anyone can have a right to something that someone else must provide. The truth is that liberals are not interested in rights as our founders understood them. They invent “rights” for one of two reasons. Either they are trying to force people to behave a certain way or they are trying to buy votes from people who care more about what government can give them than protecting themselves against what government can do to them. Anyone who supports this approach cannot claim to “support and defend the Constitution.”


A note from DaTechGuy: I hope you enjoyed Tech Knight’s piece. Remember we will be judging the entries in Da Magnificent tryouts by hits both to their post and to DaTipJar. So if you like Tech Knight’s work, please consider sharing this post, and if you hit DaTipjar because of it don’t forget to mention Tech Knight’s post as the reason you did so. If you missed his last piece, it’s here




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Please consider Subscribing. If less than 1/3 of 1% of our readers subscribed at $10 a month we’d have the 114.5 subscribers needed to our annual goal all year without solicitation.

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