Among these are "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." This fundamental equality implies that no one is born with an inherent right to rule over others without their agreement, and that governments are bound to implement the law equally to all citizens. The French Revolution's Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen included this principle as a prerequisite for becoming a citizen. It stated that anyone who is able to bear arms should be allowed to do so, thereby guaranteeing the right of citizens to keep weapons for self-defense.
In addition to being guaranteed by the Constitution, these rights are also protected by law. If someone violates your rights, you can file charges against them. A judge will decide whether or not to hear your case, and if it is found that the defendant violated your rights, they will be ordered to pay compensation. If the violation was done intentionally or with negligence, they may also be ordered to pay punitive damages.
Your rights are not limited to those mentioned in the Declaration of Independence; many other rights have been added to the Constitution over time. For example, the Thirteenth Amendment prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude, including indentured servitude. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law, which means that any law that treats people differently based on such factors as race, gender, religion, or class must be passed by Congress and signed by the President before it goes into effect.
The phrase "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" appears in the United States Declaration of Independence. The statement presents three instances of the unalienable rights that the Declaration believes God has given to all mankind and that governments are meant to defend. The concept of unalienable rights is based on the belief that humans are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that which is unalienable cannot be taken away.
In the late 18th century, early American thinkers such as John Locke and Thomas Jefferson developed a theory of natural rights that said that everyone has certain unalienable rights derived from our humanity. Natural rights theories were very influential in the formation of both countries' government systems.
Later in the 19th century, the term "unalienable" was used by Alexander Hamilton, one of the founders of the United States, in reference to certain rights held by citizens that could not be repealed by their government. These included freedoms of speech, press, and religion. The term "unalienable" also was used in reference to certain protections provided by the Constitution that could not be revoked by its creators in future amendments. Examples include the right to trial by jury and the prohibition against excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments.
The Founders of the United States described unalienable rights as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." They drafted the Constitution to safeguard individual dignity and liberty. A moral foreign policy should be based on this understanding of human rights.
These are principles that are self-evident, meaning they can be understood by all people at any time for what they are: natural rights that no one can take away from you or deny you. These are the same rights that people around the world have always believed in, even if they don't have a written constitution like we do.
Americans believe in these rights too. That is why our country has never officially declared war — we know we would be fighting against our own ideals. We also refuse to participate in atrocities such as the bombing of civilians or torture of prisoners. Such actions are not only illegal but also violate deeply held beliefs about human dignity and freedom.
Our government was founded with a commitment to protect these rights; it is not up to any single person or group to redefine them. We must continue to fight for human rights abroad and defend democracy at home. Only then will we be living up to the promise of our nation.
Governments that respect unalienable rights protect the capacity of individuals who live under them to choose and pursue what is suitable, proper, and good in accordance with the similar rights of others. They also provide protection against coercion and oppression by giving everyone involved in government the right not to be subjected to force or other improper influences.
Unalienable rights are essential because humans naturally tend to be self-interested and therefore likely to abuse their power if they can get away with it. Without these protections, only those who hold power can benefit, and those at its mercy can be left with no choice but to submit to their masters.
In America, the principle of unalienable rights is reflected in several provisions of our Constitution. For example, Article I states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or 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."
These clauses serve as barriers to governmental abuse of power by preventing Congress from making laws that violate someone's religious beliefs or free speech rights and by keeping the president from issuing commands to the nation's citizens.