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Saturday
Jun092012

On Civil Rights, On Human Rights

In her disgraceful and disparaging public remarks to Egypt about the US Constitution Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made one defensible statement, and one that is appalling.

The defensible statement boils down to this: since we were the first, the pioneers, someone else might have learned from us and done something better. The statement is defensible on the phrase "might have", but the claim is far from proven. I'll admit the possibility of improvements on matters of legal draughtstmenship, but not on bigger issues. Why not?

Ginsburg illustrates why we shouldn't look to any other Constitution when she misses the biggest point of all. She says that other Constitutions have better protections on human rights and civil rights. Well, other Constitutions have more words on the subject. But the Constitution of the United States of America, and especially its Bill of Rights, rests on a foundation document, our Declaration of Independence.

The first paragraph of the Declaration is a preamble giving a reason for the document: When in the Course of human events ... . The substance begins in the second paragraph:

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. ...

No stronger statement of human rights ever has been made and no stronger statement can be made. With it, no further foundation is needed. And without it no declaration of rights will endure, for there is no other sure foundation.

It was strong enough to overcome the provisions for slavery written into the Constitution itself. It was strong enough to overcome Plessy v. Ferguson and Jim Crow. It is strong enough to defeat the usurpations and abuses of this age, so long as we Heirs of Liberty will place and keep our faith in it.

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