It’s true that our Framers, unlike many others, especially more recently, did not focus their attention on rights. Instead, they focused on powers— and for good reason. Because we have an infinite number of rights, depending on how they’re defined, the Framers knew that they couldn’t possibly enumerate all of them. But they could enumerate the government’s powers, which they did. Thus, given that they wanted to create a limited government, leaving most of life to be lived freely in the private sector rather than through public programs of the kind we have today, the theory of the Constitution was simple and straightforward: where there is no power there is a right, belonging either to the states or to the people.H/T: Overlawyered.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Powers vs. rights (or why Justice Ginsburg is talking out of the back of her neck)
Roger Pilon has written a thoughtful article on the U.S. Constitution which, contra Ginsburg, argues that its wisdom lies precisely in focusing on the limitation of government power, rather than a lengthy enumeration of “rights”.