“Constitutional Rights”? Not Really

I frequently hear people talk about how many “constitutional rights” we have lost under (fill in whichever President’s name). This brings up a very interesting misunderstanding about the origin of our rights… For one thing, our rights don’t come from the Constitution; the Constitution merely recognizes that our rights preexist it.

For instance, in the 2nd Amendment it goes like this:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

It says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” ..not “the people shall have the right to keep and bear arms” – this is a very important difference in syntax! This is true throughout the document, and the document even recognizes in the 9th Amendment that we have all the rights not specifically mentioned.

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

If the Constitution gave rights, then the syntax of the 9th would say something like “that the people shall enjoy” or “that the people shall have” instead of retained by the people.”

The meaning of the subtle difference here is profound, and has vast implications!

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