|Back to List of Issues|
The idea that the individual is sovereign over his or her body is the cornerstone of the American experience. Instead of a monarch ruling over the people, each person is a body of self-government. Each person is the king or queen of their being, free to conduct their lives in any way they see fit for their own benefit and happiness. By labor, each person also brings into existence value or property, over which they are also sovereign, since it was their labor that created the property. They have invested themselves in the creation. When Jefferson wrote that all have an unalienable right to life, liberty, had pursuit of happiness, he was reflecting a common theme of the times. The more common phrase was life, liberty, and property. We are each sovereign over our beings and any property that we honorably obtain. Any breach of this sovereignty is immoral.
Along with this liberty comes the responsibility NOT to encroach upon the lives and property of all other individuals, who have equal rights and responsibilities. Every human being has the same rights over their being as the former monarchs.
The Supreme Court expressed this idea in 1793 when it stated: "..at the Revolution, the sovereignty devolved on the people; and they are truly the sovereigns of the country, but they are sovereigns without subjects...with none to govern but themselves; the citizens of America are equal as fellow citizens, and as joint tenants in the sovereignty." CHISHOLM v. GEORGIA (1793)
The purpose of government, as Jefferson so eloquently stated, is to secure the rights of each individual. If men were Angels, there would be no need for government. But men are not Angels, and sometimes do not adhere to the responsibility of respecting others sovereignty. So government becomes, as Thomas Paine noted, a "necessary evil". Necessary because people sometimes do not respect the sovereignty of their fellow citizens. Evil because government can often be a dwelling place for the very people who do not respect the sovereignty of their fellow citizens.
Today, people in government have forgotten who is the sovereign. The people are sovereign. They created the Constitution as a tool to protect their rights. The Constitution creates the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, which in turn create and execute statutory laws. Those laws CANNOT attempt to do things which the Sovereign (the individual person), could not do on their own. As John Locke stated, "The people cannot delegate to government the power to do anything which would be unlawful for them to do themselves".
It is time to once again make government the servant of the sovereign people, rather than allowing it to continue to masquerade as the master.
Back to List of Issues