Apparently MSNBC’s Chuck Todd has never read the Declaration of Independence, or doesn’t think its ideas are true. On Wednesday night, Todd accused Alabama Republican Roy Moore of not believing in the U.S. Constitution because the senatorial candidate said our rights come from God.
Yes. That really happened. Watch.
— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) September 27, 2017
“First off, he doesn’t appear to believe in the Constitution as it’s written,” Todd said, before playing a clip of Moore referencing what is written in the Declaration.
“Our rights don’t come from government,” Moore said. “They don’t come from the Bill of Rights. They come from Almighty God.”
“Now, that’s just a taste of what are very fundamentalist views that have gotten him removed from office twice as Alabama’s chief justice,” Todd said in response.
So does Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, and the Declaration of Independence https://t.co/mfFcfpxnTK
— Joy Pullmann (@JoyPullmann) September 28, 2017
The presupposition that human rights descend from God, not governments, is foundational to the entire structure and theory of the United States’ unique form of government. The Declaration of Independence says this explicitly, and the U.S. Constitution relies upon that framework, which goes under the label “natural rights theory.” The descent of our rights from God is key to the American founders’ preference for limited government, because it implies that governments merely recognize and protect specific, pre-existing rights rather than decide which citizens are allowed to have.
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, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. [emphasis added]
The alternative to seeing governments’ primary purpose as protecting and respecting humans’ pre-existing, well-defined natural rights is giving government the power to define what rights citizens may and may not have. Not only under the latter scenario are human rights subject to alteration at the whims of those in power, this framework is also likely to lead to unlimited government since its function is then not clearly defined or restrained.