Life is Already a Constitutional Right
As America anticipates the Supreme Court’s formal decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization and the likely overturning of Roe v Wade, all eyes are shifting to the states. All commentaries and legal analyses seem to agree; the overturning of Roe will not universally protect life. Rather, they argue that it will simply punt the issue back to each state to decide.
While this is still a huge victory in the right direction, such an assessment reveals an almost universal denial of what Augustine called just and unjust laws. In my personal view, it also exposes an epidemic misperception of both our constitutional republic and how the Constitution should correctly be read through the lens of a Judeo-Christian worldview. Hosea 4:6 warns, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” Let us not be such a people.
In the interest of time and to convey this truth as clearly as possible, I ask that you indulge my simplistic recitation of our governmental structure. Plainly and simply, we are a republic, NOT a democracy. Contrary to popular belief, we have never been a democracy. But even for those who may know this fact, few can explain the difference between the two types of government. In a nutshell, it is the difference between a government of laws rather than a government of men.
As a republic, we are a government of laws, and by identifying our supreme law of the land, we specifically are a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC, not a democratic republic. So, to recap, we are neither a democracy nor a democratic republic. We are a constitutional republic. We should all practice saying this and, even more importantly, understand the full impact of this.
Since we are a government of laws, and our Constitution is our supreme law, then we must look to the four corners of the Constitution to ascertain how our governments are to properly function. Yes, governments plural refers not only to our federal government, but also to all of our state governments as well. You see, the Constitution contains what is known as the Guarantee Clause: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” So, not only is our federal government a Republic, so too is every single state in the Union. This means that every state must likewise be a government of laws, not of men. What does that mean exactly? It means that the self-evident truths and unalienable rights spoken of in our Declaration of Independence are universal laws that must be upheld, and no men or group of men have the discretion to not enforce these laws.
Let me explain more fully. The thesis statement of our Declaration announced to the world the basis for law and government upon which we were both creating a nation and establishing a government as “the laws of nature and nature’s God.” What in the world does this phrase mean? Many mistakenly conflate the laws of nature and nature’s God with natural law, but it in fact is not. Sir William Blackstone, a pre-eminent legal philosopher contemporaneous to our nation’s founding, wrote extensively on “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” He defined it as “the Will of our Maker,” that will as it was revealed through “the Holy Scripture.” He further explained that natural law was merely those universal laws as mankind through our natural reason perceived them to be, and, therefore, natural law was greatly subordinate to the specific revelation of “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”
The Declaration proceeded to explain certain obvious and universal laws as well as the purpose and function of legitimate government. The manifesto of “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,” underscores that we are in fact a republic. It details the beliefs in just and unjust laws, inherent rights that can neither be taken nor relinquished, and that the purpose of government is to secure such rights.
For those who are saying, “So, what does any of this have to do with the Constitution?” Well, since the Declaration created the nation and the Constitution serves as the bylaws by which our nation is governed, the Constitution may not contradict, override, or do away with the Declaration. Additionally, the legal doctrine of incorporation by reference requires that when one legal document references another, the prior legal instrument is incorporated into the latter. The Constitution references our Declaration in its signature line, thus, incorporating the Declaration into the Constitution and thereby making it part of our Supreme Law of the Land. Note, this reflects a strict constructionist viewpoint where the Constitution must be strictly construed according to its four corners. It properly views the Declaration as having been incorporated by reference into those four corners.
So, if the Declaration is the Supreme Law of the Land, and if the Constitution guarantees to each state a republican form of government bound by the Rule of Law, then there should be a clear understanding that the Constitution undeniably secures an unalienable right to life (at the point of creation) that all governments, federal and state, must uphold. This understanding makes the current constitutional debate moot. There is no need to discuss issues of viability as the right is universal and affixes at the point of creation. There is no need to discuss state’s rights and federal preemption, as each government of laws must secure the unalienable right to life. The reality is that life from the very moment of conception is an unalienable right given by God and every government, if it is to be legitimate, must secure this right.
If this is your heart and prayer, and you want to join a national event of prayer and praise lifting up the person of LIFE, JESUS CHRIST, then please join us July 22nd at A NIGHT FOR LIFE.
How are you praying for the preservation of the unborn? Share your prayers in the comments.
Cynthia Dunbar is an attorney, constitutional scholar, former law professor at Liberty University School of Law, and a Board Member of IFA. To learn more about A NIGHT FOR LIFE – a national event of prayer and praise to see the dominion of death bow to the person of LIFE go to www.awakeningarise.com To learn more about how our Constitutional Republic is to function go to www.dunbarforamerica.com. Photo Credit: Canva.
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