When grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan didn’t have to go out on a limb to dismiss the rights affirmed in the Declaration of Independence. Most liberals and conservatives share the view that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not defend “natural rights.”
Yet, our Founders regarded natural rights as an important restraint on government.
Not so with progressives today and yesterday. As scholar Jim Powell noted in The Daily Caller, progressives don’t like natural rights, or the function they serve. Powell quotes Teddy Roosevelt: “I don’t think any harm comes from the concentration of power in one man’s hands.”
TR was wrong. Progress depends not on unlimited power for leaders and bureaus, but on limiting those powers so voluntary co-operation can work its wonders.
Progressives from TR to Kagan oppose natural rights because they run dead against progressivism.
Even the enumerated rights in the Bill of Rights limits government too much for progressives, so they twist words to get rid of their practicality.
The idea of natural, basic rights find their most concise defense in the Ninth Amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The question to ask Supreme Court candidates — indeed, any person who must swear to “uphold the Constitution” — is how “the people” can retain their unenumerated rights.
The question is almost never asked.
To our detriment.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.