Having expressed my beliefs about Natural Rights, where does that leave all the other rights that I and so many of you hold dear and value as citizens of this great country? Legal Rights are the extensions of my Natural Right (for simplicity’s sake I will call it The Right to Choose). As our Right to Choose is limited by natural (as in nature) and unnatural (as in not nature) law, it must be guaranteed by unnatural law. Natural law are things we can have no impact on, like gravity or trying to change the speed of light, we just can’t. Unnatural law is law written by humanity that enforces the views of that society and culture that writes those laws and differs from location to location.
As the standards and morality of different societies evolve so to do their Legal Rights. Briefly, morality is the law that a person chooses to follow because they believe a person should follow it, this is different from ethics which is obeying the written legal law. As our Natural Right is the Right to Choose, we can from that, Choose to create a government and law that protects what other Rights we feel we deserve. Much of this choice that we as a society makes come from past experiences and situations that we have been in, including upbringing, religion, prior political activities, experiences, education, and well, every aspect of our lives.
This actually helps us identify why the Founding Fathers decided to include certain rights in the US Constitution. Rights that either had been guaranteed in the English Bill of Rights and other common law documents and traditions, or Rights that had never been proposed before. Of course one of the biggest rights in discussion today is found in the 2nd Amendment, the Right of the people to Keep and Bear Arms. This stems from the situation that the colonists found themselves in early 1775.
After the Boston Tea Party in Dec 1774, where colonists destroyed 2.25 million dollars worth of tea that the Royal Governor of Massachusetts was demanding that they unload from a ship and buy, the British Parliament passed a series of laws nicknamed the Intolerable Acts. Of them, the Massachusetts Government Act was the worst because it removed their right to govern themselves. In response to this the colonists formed their own government in exile in Concord.
Declaring the exile government a rebellion the British government sent a military force late in the night of April 18th to confiscate any weapons and supplies of rebellion in Concord. The morning of April 19th 1775 they arrive in Concord to take the rebels guns. Around 11am, The Shot Heard Around the World started the Revolutionary War. All because the government felt they should take away guns from rebellious people, guns which are a last resort against a “A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant.”
As a result of the experiences they faced at the hands of the British troops in Boston we have certain rights found in the Bill of Rights like the Right to Bear Arms. We also have the right to not allow soldiers to be housed in our homes (British troops were housed with Boston colonists), we have the right to be secure in our personal effects (tax collectors could search anything without a warrant), and we have the right to petition the government / have free speech to criticize the government without punishment (things England had basically denied the colonists).
Today we face other issues in addition to the ones that our Founding Fathers faced. New technologies have brought us new challenges. Rights to privacy, medicine, education, and life have become issues at the front of our attention. Each of these are Legal Rights under the definitions that I have provided and are to be governed by law, which is why I am extremely grateful for the 9th Amendment, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
As issues arise, which the Founding Fathers knew they would, it would be up to us, the people, to secure our rights. This is why it is important to know who you are voting for, and where they stand on what rights we should guarantee to a free people. It is important to vote, to participate in every aspect of our political sphere. I hope you vote(d) in this year’s election, Tuesday Nov 5th. If you need help getting to the box, let me know and we will get you there, even if you plan to vote completely opposite of me, your voice deserves to be heard.
Charles Horikami is a Social Studies Teacher at BLMS, and the Legislative District 32 Chair for the Idaho State Republican Party. The views expressed are not representative of the BLSD or of the Idaho State Republican Party. He can be contacted at email@example.com and welcomes all comments and critiques.