In this series about the Constitution, we will explore the natural unalienable rights mentioned in the body of the Constitution, keeping in mind the rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.
The Constitution has a Preamble, and therein we find the first correlation to the rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. The Preamble says: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” A more perfect Union, Justice, Tranquility, Defense, Welfare and Liberty are all concepts that go together with the rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness to which the Declaration of Independence referred as natural unalienable rights. Further, the opening expression of “we the people” is a reaffirmation that it is the people, and not a king, who are the sovereign who “ordain and establish this Constitution.”
The enumeration in the Preamble is significant because it shows that the natural unalienable rights extend to practical necessary matters, and not only refer to general concepts. Forming a more prefect Union is a very practical political action, but is also a natural unalienable right of human beings when joining with one another to pursue common goals. Establishing Justice is a practical legal matter, but is also a natural unalienable right of human beings in pursuit of their happiness. Insuring domestic tranquility may seem a very practical and necessary matter that every government should pursue, but is also a natural unalienable right of human beings in pursuit of a happy life. Providing for the common Defense would also appear as a practical necessary function of every government, but is also a natural unalienable right of human beings in order to protect their lives and liberties. Promoting the general Welfare would appear to be an obvious function of a government, but is also a natural unalienable right of human beings who want to pursue a life of Liberty and Happiness. And, finally, securing “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” is a direct correlation to the Liberty proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.
So we have it that from the onset, the Constitution introduces itself by reaffirming the key concepts upon which the Declaration of Independence rested, to wit: That the power resides in the people and that the people have natural unalienable rights in pursuit of which these documents are created. In the next articles in this series we will go over more specifics contained in the Constitution.