The founding of the American Republic resides in these familiar words from our Declaration of Independence, which state: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The uniqueness of America is that it is a nation that was founded upon what was considered at the time to be a radical notion concerning the natural rights of every human being. Such a radical principle stated unequivocally that human rights are gifts from a Creator and therefore, cannot be denied to anyone by a government made up of mere mortals. Since human rights are not granted by a king, ruler, or government, they cannot be taken away at the whim of tyrants. Succinctly put, America was founded upon the belief that: 1) there is a Creator who grants natural rights to human beings emanating from the fact that such humans are created; 2) all human beings are created equal and our nation does not acknowledge a class structure where some are considered superior to others; 3) such natural rights are self-evident. meaning that they are true on their very face and need not be proven through reasoning or logic; and 4) such self-evident truths are unalienable meaning that since they are granted by God alone they are incapable of being transferred, denied or taken away by anybody else, including the government. The American concept of the equality of all because they are created equal and are given by a Creator natural self-evident rights was a radical departure from a contrary view held for centuries. The pre-American world view proclaimed that human rights are granted
By Dr. Alveda C. King, Niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The ongoing struggle for civil rights in our country has seen remarkable results. That so many have had to sacrifice so much and suffer so greatly to achieve equality under the law, though, is both a testament to perseverance and a stain on our national conscience. When we view how far we've come in how we treat each other, the temptation is to feel pride in our society's advancement. Pride, however, is what caused the problem of unequal treatment in the first place. And pride is what perpetuates unequal treatment today. For the final chapter of the civil rights movement to be completed, what we must pursue is humility — the magnitude of our wrongs is so enormous and the weight of guilt so heavy, there is no other way. Only humility will let us see what we've done. Only humility will cause us to seek forgiveness and healing. And only humility will keep us from committing those wrongs again. The final chapter of the civil rights movement is about persons — not one "race" of people, but humanity itself. It proceeds from the fundamental question, is your right to live inherent because you are a human being or does it depend on whether someone wants you? All other rights — voting, housing, education — mean nothing if someone else has a "right" to take your life. That's why the final civil rights chapter must bepersonhood. Without legal recognition that the protection of your continued existence should be based on something more than personal popularity, there really is nothing left to protect. Our Founding Fathers valued humanity, so much so that the Declaration of Independence could be called the first chapter of the American civil rights movement. They wrote
By Rev. Walter B Hoye II "The term 'non-person' has emerged as the most far-reaching and disastrous epithet ever invoked to devalue human life in the womb. When the United Sates Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision (1973) declared that 'the word 'person,' as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn,' it sounded the legalized death knell for huge numbers of unborn humans." — William Brennan, Ph.D., Professor of Social Work in the Saint Louis University School of Social Work. Personhood is a Pro-Life strategy that does not embrace exceptions and in my opinion, is exactly what the Pro-Life movement looks like victorious. Personhood allows the discussion to focus on life and is a powerful and effective strategy for communicating life in communities of color. In the classroom of race-based oppression, minority communities share a very painful history of lessons learned at the ultimate expense of life itself in this country. Because we've "been there" … Because we understand what it is like not to be a person, we know exactly where the term "non-person" leads. Personhood is rooted in truth. "Momma is with child" and only this simple truth has the power to triumphantly contend with those hiding behind socially impeccable auspices such as the Pulpit, the Bench or the Resolute Desk. Personhood affords us the opportunity to address how words have been used historically to justify the vilest crimes against humanity. Personhood reminds the public that malevolent and worm wooded words fuel violent human behavior. By design, Personhood replaces the lexicon of dehumanization with what Dr. Brennan calls a "nomenclature of life-affirming and exalted portrayals of all human beings despite their status, condition, stage of development, gender, race, age or place of residence." If the goal of the Fourteenth Amendment was to give
By Thomas A. Glessner, Attorney at Law A Short Film that was created by the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates.
By Thomas A. Glessner, Attorney at Law Since childhood most of us have sung those inspiring words "Our Fathers' God to Thee, Author of Liberty, Of Thee I Sing". We reference America as the "land of the free and the home of the brave" and the word "liberty" is entrenched in our national consciousness as a foundational American value. Yet, the erosion of culture values in American society over the last few decades has turned our understanding of the meaning of liberty into something that would be considered quite foreign to our nation's founding fathers. The Declaration of Independence, the founding document of our nation, speaks of the inalienable right of liberty endowed upon mankind by our Creator, and our Constitution speaks of prohibiting government from taking away a person's liberty without due process of law. What did the founders mean when they declared liberty to be such a cherished value and right of American citizenship? Sir William Blackstone, an English jurist in the 18th Century, wrote of liberty in his works, Commentaries on the Laws of England. Blackstone's writings and thinking were influential in the development of the intellectual life of American founders such as Thomas Jefferson, and, as such, set forth the intellectual background for the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Perhaps, a brief discussion of Blackstone's writings would be appropriate to truly understand the concept and meaning of the constitutional liberty that is the foundation of American society. Blackstone begins his commentaries by declaring that a natural law emanating from the Creator of the universe exists which demands obedience from the Creator's subjects. Governments are subject to these requirements of divine natural law, according to Blackstone, and when they
Abortion and the Supreme Court By Thomas A. Glessner, Attorney at Law The American patriot Thomas Paine helped to fuel the American Revolution with his classic essay Common Sense. In this essay Paine proclaims: " [A] long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason." Paine, of course, was talking about the abuses that the American colonists suffered under the crown of England, and he was bemoaning the fact that many colonists had become so used to these abuses that over time they accepted their plight instead of rising up and overthrowing tyranny. Perhaps Thomas Paine was prophetically observing twenty-first century America and the acquiescence of the public-at-large to the judicial tyranny that has imposed upon America abortion on demand. When the United States Supreme Court issued Roe v. Wade in 1973 it invalidated the laws of all fifty states that prohibited abortion. At that time an outcry was heard from some segments of society, most notably the Catholic church, but for the most part the public-at-large was silent. The decision was accepted by many as an advancement of an increasingly secular and humanistic culture that views moral values as relative and changing over time. In 1992 the United States Supreme Court had an opportunity to correct its Roe decision but upheld it by one vote. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) the Court's decision argued that Roe could not be reversed. Under the judicial doctrine of stare decisis legal precedent, according to the Court, should be given great respect and requires that precedents not be overturned except for compelling reasons. According to the Court in Casey, a generation of
Part 2 on Personhood By Thomas A. Glessner, Attorney at Law (Note: This is the second of a series of commentaries that discusses the concept of "personhood" and Constitutional protection for all "persons.") Dr. Suess, the beloved children's author, wrote a delightful children's story titled Horton Hears A Who. This is a story about a creature named Horton who discovers a tiny microscopic land named 'Whoville." Inhabiting this tiny world are creatures named "Whos" that are too tiny for the naked eye to see. However, Horton in making his discovery emphatically states on numerous occasions "a person's a person no matter how small." President Obama clearly lacked the wisdom of Horton this week when he issued an executive order allowing for the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Stem cells are primal cells found in all multi-cellular organisms. They retain the ability to renew themselves through mitotic cell division and can differentiate into a diverse range of specialized cell types. The three broad categories of stem cells are: 1) embryonic stem cells, which are derived from the inner cell mass of a human embryo and have the potential to develop into nearly all of the tissues in the body; 2) adult stem cells, which are unspecialized cells found in adult tissue that can renew themselves and become specialized to yield all of the cell types of the tissue from which they originate; and 3) cord blood stem cells, which are found in the umbilical cord. Some in the medical community believe that embryonic stem cell research could lead to therapies to effectively treat diseases such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. Due to human reproductive technology there are now many "excess" embryos that have
Part 1 on Personhood By Thomas A. Glessner, Attorney at Law (Note: This is the first of a series of commentaries that discusses the concept of "personhood" and Constitutional protection for all "persons.") The American ideals of equality and justice under the law have over the years inspired many to stand up for the oppressed. Indeed, numerous politicians (including our current president) have run for public office by declaring that they are for "the little guy" who has no voice or representation in our special interest inflicted political institutions. Yet, our president along with most of these politicians (with some notable exceptions) ignore and even work against the interests of the most vulnerable of these "little people" — the unborn. Dr. Suess, the beloved children's author, wrote a delightful children's story titled Horton Hears A Who. This is a story about a creature named Horton who discovers a tiny microscopic land named 'Whoville." Inhabiting this tiny world are creatures named "Whos" that are too tiny for the naked eye to see. However, Horton in making his discovery emphatically states on numerous occasions "a person's a person no matter how small." The United States Supreme Court clearly lacked the wisdom of Horton when it handed down it infamous decision of Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973. It is too bad that Horton was not present in the courtroom on that day to remind the Justices of the Court that indeed, "a person's a person no matter how small." At the heart of the Roe decision was the declaration that an unborn child is not a person under the Fourteenth Amendment and thus, is not protected by the Constitution. This Amendment clearly states that "no state shall deny to any person ...