Secure liberty through establishing justice
In this month’s installment of Understanding Liberty, I want to highlight the importance of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. The preamble is more than an interesting introduction. The preamble is an explanation of the purposes of the Constitution. One of those purposes, the most important purpose governing all others, is to secure the blessings of liberty to every person the federal government encounters, citizen or not, on or off U.S. soil. The Preamble is as governing a portion of the text as every other portion of the Constitution. It is, in essence, codified fundamental law along with the other Articles, Sections, and clauses of the document.
There are six purposes of the Constitution, all of which are listed below. What must be remembered is that the different purposes of the Preamble cannot contradict each other. In other words, Congress must establish domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and establish justice, all within the bounds of securing liberty within the U.S., all of which will form a more perfect union. Indeed, securing liberty and establishing justice are inseparably connected. If you establish justice, you secure liberty. If you secure liberty, you establish justice. When you destroy liberty, you destroy justice. To have justice is to have liberty.
If at any time a law is passed or an action is done by the federal government that furthers one of the aforementioned purposes, yet infringes upon the liberty of individuals, how can the federal government be said to be securing liberty and establishing justice? In other words, all laws that are passed and actions done by the federal government in pursuance of all other purposes in the Preamble must not infringe upon the liberty of the people.
We simply cannot be true to the Constitution and support laws and government actions that may promote the general welfare, ensure domestic tranquility, and provide for the common defense of the nation, yet infringe upon the liberty of individuals and thus establish injustice.
How do we secure the blessings of liberty? We secure liberty by securing to each and every individual on and off US soil, citizen and alien alike, their equal, inalienable rights, some of which are enumerated in the Constitution while others are mentioned in general in the Declaration of Independence and the rest are protected by the 9th Amendment. When we violate the equal rights of indi- viduals, we weaken and lose liberty and establish injustice for us all. The reciprocating effects of such rights violations might not be immediately felt, but truly, what goes around comes around, and such oppression will reach the oppressor somewhere down the line. Such is the history of tyranny. Thomas Paine said it best: “[h]e that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”
Securing the blessings of liberty is the governing purpose of the Constitution. Indeed, preserving liberty and thus establishing justice is the best way to accomplish the other purposes of the Constitution. For where liberty and justice reside, so there also resides, to a greater extent, tranquility, security and better welfare for the people. Securing liberty is the key to achieving the other purposes of the Constitution outlined in the Preamble. Remember the words of Thomas Jefferson: “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” Resource suggestions: 1.) Liberty Fund, Inc.’s “Online Library of Liberty:” http://oll.libertyfund.org/ 2.) The Cato Home Study Course Vol. 1: “The Ideas of Liberty:”
http://www.libertarianism.org/ media/ video- collection/ cato-home- study-course-vol-1-ideas-liberty
Originally printed in the June 2013 edition of Serve Daily.