Over the last few days, I’ve had conversations with a couple of my more progressive friends in which they lamented the fact that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t give the American people enough rights.
They echo sentiments expressed by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Last February, the Supreme Court justice made a similar argument when advising the Egyptians to not look solely to the U.S. Constitution when drafting their own.
“I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” Ginsburg said in an interview on Al Hayat television. “I might look at the constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, have an independent judiciary. It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done.”
Both friends seemed quite shocked when I told them in a sense they were correct. In fact, the Constitution doesn’t really give Americans any rights at all.
But what about the Bill of Rights, they both protested. “It gives us the right to free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press…”
Of course, the Bill of Rights does no such thing. Yes, it does protect those basic rights from interference from the federal government, but it does not “give us” those rights.
Look at the language of the Bill of Rights.Details