Does the U.S. Constitution guarantee a right to life?
A Miner Detail‘s editors aren’t attorneys (though someday, perhaps) and they haven’t memorized every word of the U.S. Constitution.
But lucky for people without eidetic memories, such documents are readily available online.
(For anyone reading and for contextual purposes, A Miner Detail is a Maryland politics and Maryland news blog.)
Congressional candidates should know their founding documents
During a 2016 6th Congressional District Republican primary debate, candidate Chris Mason claimed, “The Constitution says that we have the right to life…the right to life…. it says life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
“That’s exactly what it says in the preamble to the Constitution,” Mason claimed.
You can watch the debate by clicking the link below.
Robin Ficker, to Mason’s right, is the only attorney in the crop of candidates.
You’ll see Ficker nodding in visible agreement with Mason’s comments.
Does the U.S. Constitution say Americans have a right to life?
The U.S. Constitution never mentions “the right to life.”
The word “Life” is found but only once in the Consitution.
“The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.”
A Miner Detail is confident that candidate Mason was not referencing Congress’ reserved right to sanction Americans to death if found guilty of treason.
Shifting directions, let’s talk about the Constitution’s preamble.
Here’s the exact text of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution:
“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The Declaration of Independence
Mr. Mason may have misspoken during his Republican debate remarks.
Perhaps Mason meant to reference the preamble to 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 certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Onto the following question…
Is the Declaration of Independence a legally binding document?
The Heritage Foundation answered this question:
“The first of the four organic laws of the United States, the Declaration may lack legal force but remains nonetheless the source of all legitimate political authority.”
If the Declaration of Independence was legally enforceable, why were some men (Blacks, Asians, the Irish) still treated unequally for another hundred years?
The Declaration of Independence, famously written by Thomas Jefferson, is a position paper that cannot be used for legal precedent.
A Miner Detail is a Maryland politics blog featuring Maryland political news, political commentary, and opinion.
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Eric is a former officer in the Republican Club of Frederick County and Frederick County Republican Central Committee between 2015 and 2018. Former guest host on WFMD and showrunner on WTHU. Avid gardener and food preserver. Graduated from Libertarianism to Anarchism as the corruption level in the state requires us to start over from scratch.