The Declaration of Independence Provides the First Principles for Answering Constitutional Questions

In the last post I took a look at gun control legislation in the state of Illinois.  So that got me thinking about how several states have fallen to a point that they elected officials who in plain view have begun voting to infringe upon the constitutional rights of their own citizens.  I think the short answer has a lot to do with power.  The longer answer has to do with a crisis in leadership in every conceivable profession or vocation.  That crisis in leadership always ends up in a crisis in craftsmanship.

“Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”  

Napoleon Bonaparte

I believe it’s a mix of both.  Incompetence for some though for some malice as an exchange to acquire power. To understand things you always have to go back to the beginning.    

August 2, 1776, delegates began signing the Declaration of Independence.  On September 17, 1787, 39 of the 55 delegates signed it while those who refused did so out of an objection to the lack of a Bill of Rights.  The first 10 Amendments became part of the United States Constitution in 1791.  

Here’s a short excerpt 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 inherent & inalienable rights: that [among] these are life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness.”  

The Declaration of Independence came before the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Those tasked with answering seemingly difficult constitutional questions would be wise to consider those questions in light of our inherent and inalienable rights given to us by God. Those were literally spelled out in the Declaration of Independence.

Why does any of this matter?  St. Thomas Aquinas was purported to have said: An error in the beginning is an error indeed.  Why?  Errors at the level of formation or first principles will compound over time. I believe our founding fathers gave us great gifts in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. I believe the founding fathers got it right at the level of formation.

If America had kept these fundamental first principles in priority of place we’d never have had slavery.  Why? How could we have slavery with a first principle that said: all men are created equal

Constitutional questions like abortion and gun control would be very easy to answer by a quick review of the founding fathers intentions, beliefs, and vision for the United States clearly written down in the Declaration of Independence.  The problem is there are some number of Americans who do not share the founding fathers intentions, beliefs, and vision for the United States of America.