The nature of individual rights is NOT defined in the Constitution, but in the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence …
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government
Rights don’t come from government decree, they are endowed upon individuals by the Creator. Governments are created by the consent of the governed, and the governed retain the absolute right to alter or abolish governments. Governments that do not enjoy the consent of the governed are unjust.
These concepts were different from the traditional theory of government in the 17th century, which held that the King got his power to govern from God, and the King, then, based on his divine powers defined the rights of the people. In that model, the governed existed to serve the state. The Declaration of Independence reversed that – government was created by the governed and existed to serve the governed.
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are documents that define what government may or may not do. These documents express limits on government and do NOT define the rights of the governed.
Tyrants, petty or otherwise, interpret it differently.
And to some opinion it is believed to be impervious to any attack and needs no defending.
And the interesting question is to whom do those who take an oath to defend the Constitution – including myself – owe allegiance. Are they swearing allegiance to the Constitution and the government it creates or to the governed who are vested with the right to change or abolish the government they created?
Sad that it had to be asked.
And one of the more interesting questions is raised by the sentences that follow the introductory assertions in the Declaration of Independence …
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security
One can read this as an assertion that the governed not only have a right to throw off a despotic government, but a duty. In the world in which we live, the majority of Americans no longer vote at all or actively participate in the political world because they view it as too hard, too disgusting, too entrenched to change, …