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On a Foundation of These Principles

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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

As Americans gather this Independence Day, many will read or listen to the Declaration of Independence with these 55 immortal words.

Read slowly and emphatically these 55 words.  They are the greatest, most powerful words written by man.

These 55 words have done more to lift more people out of poverty, cure more diseases, welcome more immigrants, and create more safety, creature comforts and upward mobility than any government program -- any nation -- in history.

Yet they are just 55 words.

These words set forth the bases for the people of 13 colonies to institute a new government, “laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

They set forth the principles later incorporated and institutionalized by our “fundamental and paramount law,” as Chief Justice John Marshall described our Constitution in Marbury v. Madison.

These 55 words set forth the principles that changed the world.  They are principles not just that “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle” us to “certain unalienable Rights.”

They include this essential principle that “Governments are instituted among Men” to “secure these rights,” as the very purpose of government, its raison d’etre.

Our government was organized and constituted by a written “fundamental and paramount law.”  It is a law written to govern government itself for the purpose of securing “these rights.”

The Fifth Amendment to that Constitution states that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty and property, without due process of law.”  The Fifth Amendment, along with the rest of the Constitution, was structured to govern government consistent with the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

How, in 2013, can we reconcile these principles with reality?  Our government no longer secures these rights.  Government has become America’s biggest lawbreaker, not only because it now operates in perpetual violation of the Constitution, but because government bureaucrats violate the very laws they implement and enforce, ala the IRS, the NSA, the EPA, etc.

Americans are deprived of life, liberty and property by unaccountable bureaucrats who have nearly no regard for due process of law.

Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley, no conservative, writes about “The Rise of the Fourth Branch of Government,” and how that has disrupted our constitutional system: 

Our carefully constructed system of checks and balances is being negated by the rise of a fourth branch, an administrative state of sprawling departments and agencies that govern with increasing autonomy and decreasing transparency.

The rise of the fourth branch has been at the expense of Congress’s lawmaking authority. In fact, the vast majority of “laws” governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats.

The autonomy [of the fourth branch] was magnified when the Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that agencies are entitled to heavy deference in their interpretations of laws. The court went even further this past week, ruling that agencies should get the same heavy deference in determining their own jurisdictions — a power that was previously believed to rest with Congress.

As the number of federal regulations increased, however, Congress decided to relieve the judiciary of most regulatory cases and create administrative courts tied to individual agencies.

These agency proceedings are often mockeries of due process, with one-sided presumptions and procedural rules favoring the agency.

In the new regulatory age, presidents and Congress can still change the government’s priorities, but the agencies effectively run the show based on their interpretations and discretion. The rise of this fourth branch represents perhaps the single greatest change in our system of government since the founding.

We cannot long protect liberty if our leaders continue to act like mere bystanders to the work of government.

We are no longer operating under that fundamental law that governs government.  Bureaucrats are too far removed from the “consent of the governed.”  They operate in a sphere of few or no consequences when they violate the law.  

Because they have few or no incentives to secure our rights, we have a corrupted, bastardized system.  Government is no longer willing or able to secure our God-given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The foundation to secure these principles has crumbled.

The principles of the Declaration of Independence -- the very principles of what it means to be America and to be an American -- cannot withstand unless we return to government governed by a paramount law.

This Independence Day we can begin to “provide new Guards for [our] future security.”  We need another revolution -- this one of legal consequence for government lawbreaking.

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