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Human Rights Day: 61st anniversary

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  • Andrew Jackson
    Hello,   Today marks the 61st anniversary of the U. N. adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  That a number of U. N. members ignore it and
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 10, 2009
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      Hello,
       
      Today marks the 61st anniversary of the U. N. adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  That a number of U. N. members ignore it and treat their people as they please in violation of this declaration which they may have signed or at least paid lip service to is well known.  It does not stand alone as it had it predecessors.  One often cited is the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789) rooted in the French Revolution.  Various academics and others cite these documents to us as if they are legal precedent.
       
      But this tends to ignore the common law tradition such as the Petition of Right (1628) and Bill of Rights (English 1689).  More specifically we have the United States Constitution (1789) and the Bill of Rights (1791).  One might cite the U. N. Declaration of Human Rights to show the conduct of some of our governmental officials falls below an international standard to which we subscribe- and which our Constitution often clearly exceeds- giving some politicians a red face with attendant embarrassment or indicate that as far as holding ourselves out as a shining beacon of civil liberty, we sometimes fall far short of our billing.
       
      But Article VI defines the Constitution and laws enacted pursuant thereto as the supreme law of the land.  That's what we should consult in constitutional cases and disputes.  It is not the province of judges and politicians to use the U. N. Declaration of Human Rights or any foreign law to define or explain our rights under the Constitution.  Some congressmen and senators  a few years back had a proposed bill to make citation of foreign law as defining the rights of Americans an impeachable offense.  Some judges shrieked in horror and said this would violate judicial independence. How they could say this is in light of Article VI's clear mandate is beyond my understanding.
       
      I recall reading a story some time back about some fellow saying we should look to the Constitution and the collective mind of our Founding Fathers to understand our rights, government's obligations, guidance on various legal and social matters, opposed legislating from the bench, and made vague hints at restoring the rule of law.  Then some guy asked him if he's some kind of radical or something.  There may be a lesson in all of that, but it somehow escapes me.
       
      Andrew

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