The political theory announced in the Declaration of Independence can be summed up…

“First come rights, then comes Government”

What the Declaration of Independence really claimed, Lawprof Randy Barnett says adding 4 bullet points:

• The rights of individuals do not originate with any government, but pre-exist its formation.

• The protection of these rights is both the purpose and first duty of government.

• Even after government is formed, these rights provide a standard by which its performance is measured and, in extreme cases, its systemic failure to protect rights—or its systematic violation of rights—can justify its alteration or abolition.

• At least some of these rights are so fundamental that they are “inalienable,” meaning they are so intimately connected to one’s nature as a human being that they cannot be transferred to another even if one consents to do so.


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