When something is forbidden, a right to do something is taken away.
All right, I hear some people say, but along with all the new prohibitions,
we have gained a whole battery of new rights.
The Bill of Rights contains not a single provision which grants
or concedes a right to anyone by taking something from another.
It does not even grant rights, really, it rather affirms their pre-existence.
All restrictions in those first ten amendments to our Constitution
are placed on government - not a single constraint on individuals
or The People at large.
There were good reasons for that. First, the Framers believed in
the virtue of very few laws - the fewer the laws, the broader the
natural agreement about them. More importantly, their purpose was
to make equal standing before the law not just a goal but reality,
for only the law is able to ameliorate the inequality of humans.
Now look at the rights' industry of the last decades.
The new rights are being granted by government to specific classes
of persons. For a start, no provision in the Constitution appears
to buttress the concept of rights applicable to specific classes
of persons. Even more importantly, every so-called right is a restriction
on all others not included in the provision.
In other words, all new rights give to some what they take from
others. And if they do not take directly, they provide a license
to some to raid the possessions of others - using, misusing, really,
All new rights carry the message, "you Americans cannot be
trusted to do the right thing."
How else can we explain the thousands of laws and regulations
that form the basis for a growing number of persons to get others
expelled, fired, jailed - or simply intimidated, forced into submission?
The right of one to be offended robs another of the right to free
speech. The right of one to a university admission despite a low
score robs another of a place fairly earned. The right to a government
contract despite a high bid robs another of the right to compete.
Every single entitlement relies on the confiscation of another's
We have civil rights, human rights, women's rights, children's
rights, rights of the disabled - sorry: differently-abled - gender
rights, gay-lesbian rights, animal rights, rights of persons with
limited English proficiency, and environmental rights. "Patients'
rights" are about to be added.
If we care about the rule of law, we have to accept that all these
"rights" run counter to it. None has a foundation in the
Constitution of the United States because the Constitution deals
with the rights of "The People" or of "persons"
- not groups. The rights cited above represent the primary threat
to the rule of law precisely because they give the appearance of
being made of the same cloth as proper law, even though they are
not. They may have been placed on the books, they may have been
properly voted upon by Congress, they may, even, have been affirmed
by the Supreme Court, and yet they will never be legitimate under
the rule of law.
The remedy for anyone denied genuine, legitimate, constitutional
rights - such as peaceable assembly - is in the strict interpretation,
observance and enforcement of those rights. The remedy is not entitlement
"Title" forms the core of the word "enTITLEment."
It is a good bet that any time reference is made to a "Title"
followed by a roman numeral (just now, Title IX is much in the news),
we are looking at an entitlement, not a constitutional right.
How far we have strayed from the rule of law has been demonstrated
in a recent 5-4 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court listed as "Davis
v. Monroe County Board of Education." The full weight, the
assembled wisdom, the unparalleled majesty of the highest judicial
authority ever devised by free men was brought to bear upon the
pre-pubescent antics of a ten-year-old boy which, in a sane world,
would have received short shrift from educators and parents.
"...In early February," we read in the opinion penned
by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, "G.F. purportedly placed a
door stop in his pants and proceeded to act in a sexually aggressive
manner toward LaShonda..." (A girl of the same age.)
But that would only make the participation of the Supreme Court
a farce. What makes it a further threat to our future is that the
decision creates yet more "rights" - entitlements, really
- for the litigious to raid the tills of school systems through
No wonder people come to believe in earnest that there is a right
to education, a right to healthcare, a right to housing, a right
to a secure retirement. Those, of course, are all desirable things.
But they cost money.
None of the rights in the Constitution costs money.
So how's that for a rule of thumb? If it costs money, it cannot
be a right - it's an entitlement. If it takes from another, it cannot
be a right - it's confiscation. Entitlements and confiscation are
concepts alien to the U.S. Constitution, to the rule of law.
Where entitlements and confiscation are perfectly at home is in
the world of economic justice, environmental justice, social justice.
Read all about them on the web site of the Socialist International.