West: Natural Law & the U.S. Constitution

West: Natural Law & the U.S. Constitution

September 22nd, 2013 By Mark West in Opinion Columns

In September each year our nation celebrates Constitution Week, an observance that began as a celebration not only of the signing of the United States Constitution but also in recognition of each citizen who has been blessed with American citizenship.

As we consider this document -- what is it that has accounted for the exceptional nature of our nation and why have we as a people been so blessed -- I would contend that a primary reason was our founding fathers' belief in natural law, those moral truths applying universally to all of mankind. Clearly our founders were committed to establishing a system of government that would respect those universal, timeless truths and values.

Natural law can be seen on full display in the Declaration of Independence when Thomas Jefferson asserted, "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."

Over a decade later our founders' faithfulness to natural law was again revealed as they established the Bill of Rights. In their view, freedom of religion, speech, press, peaceful assembly, right to bear arms, right to privacy, and others flowed from "nature" (or God) rather than from government and they sought to affirm those truths.

The Founders understood that to do otherwise would surely result in the destruction of a nation.

Today, though, there are many in our nation who have forgotten these universal truths. Even worse, there is a dangerous belief by many that natural law can be discarded, or that it no longer applies.

We see elected officials (in both parties) who are quite content trampling on our unalienable rights. Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, we see politicians who are willing to assail the right to privacy and free press. In the name of security we see leaders who are willing to "infringe" on the right to bear arms. Life is undermined in the name of "choice." Speech is no longer so "free" when the speech doesn't agree with a political ideology. Freedom of religion is under assault when convictions are no longer politically correct.

While there may be some short-term gain or victories for those assailing our unalienable rights, there is a truth that cannot be ignored: the obvious disrespect for natural law.

Just as jumping out of a building will immediately affirm the law of gravity -- resulting in serious injury or death; likewise, those who would seek to ignore the rights which flow from "nature" or God will fail in the final analysis. In our system of government they will either be replaced or, as affirmed in our founding document:

"... 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 ..."

Mark West is president of the Chattanooga Tea Party.