The Presumption of Liberty

by Andrew P. Napolitano

The concept of personal liberty is that our rights come from our humanity. If you believe in a Supreme Being, as I do and as the Declaration of Independence presupposes, then you acknowledge these rights as a gift from the Creator. If you doubt or reject the existence of a Supreme Being, you can still accept the personal origin of these rights. Humans are rational beings and the essence of natural rights is the exercise of reason to seek the truth. The individual employment of unimpeded reason is the exercise of a natural right.

Either way — whether divinely created or humanly adapted — under the Natural Law, our rights come from within us. This is not a mere academic argument. Rather, it has profound everyday consequences. A right is an unconditional claim against all others that does not require validation or approval. Thus, your right to the freedom of speech enables you to think what you wish and say what you think and publish what you say. Nature — or as Thomas Jefferson said, “Nature’s God” — has given you that right.

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