The founding fathers intended the government of the new nation to have the sole charge of protecting the inalienable rights of its citizens, and made that clear as they stated: “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 …”. Smaller Exceptions to Inalienable Rights. Some provisions affect people’s lives more than others, but they are all important in their own right. ⋆ The Constitution • Constitution.com In keeping with the theme of such British documents as the Magna Carta (1215), John Locke’s Second Treatise on Civil Government (1690), and the English Bill of Rights (1689), they approached the task of guaranteeing liberty by limiting government. How did the Founders understand the phrase, “All men are equal”? For instance, a person’s inalienable rights may be temporarily suspended throughout period of due process and trial. This is why they called these rights “natural.” They are part of what it means to be a person. By their very nature, having been bestowed by God, or by happenstance of birth, inalienable rights can only be suspended or abolished in dire circumstance. In the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville helped to popularize the term “tyranny of the majority,” but John Adams had helped introduce it in 1788. American citizens have enjoyed a broad spectrum of rights, the number of rights, privileges, and entitlements having increased over the years since the formation of the United States by the colonists. The following is one example which involves the rights of an unborn child. Which of these is an example of natural rights (as opposed to legal rights)? The Founders understood that criminals who are a threat to the safety and property of others, for example, need to be prevented from exercising the right to move about where they please. Legal rights can be changed, suspended, or revoked as new laws are deemed necessary or more appropriate. The framers of the Constitution acknowledged the inalienable rights of man in this powerful phrase from the Declaration of Independence: “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.”. Popular sovereignty In other words, a right is one thing, but the freedom to exercise it is something else. Most of all, freedom depends on citizens having the wisdom, courage, and sense of justice necessary to take action when they see government overstepping its bounds. When issued by a court, an injunction may limit a person’s activities, and is most commonly issued when the exercise of that person’s rights interferes with another person’s rights. Liberty Except where authorized by people through the Constitution, government does not have the authority to limit freedom. The Founders knew full well that while we are born with rights, we need some protection in order to have the freedom to exercise those rights.This principle helps explain the difference between “natural rights” and “legal rights.” While natural rights are innately part of being human, and exist prior to any culture or society, legal rights are those that are acknowledged and protected by a given government.So, in the Founders’ understanding, natural rights would include the right to life itself, the right to think for oneself, the right to self-defense, and the right to keep what one has worked honestly for, among others.Legal rights would include the right to vote, the specific methods by which fair trials are conducted, and copyrights and patents–all of which might be defined and protected in different ways in different countries or states, based on their particular customs and beliefs.

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