The Liberty Amendment
I propose the following provision in the constitution of any country, state, province, county, or city, to provide the legal foundation for liberty:
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
Congress shall make no law prohibiting or restricting any peaceful and honest adult human action, not involving force or fraud, any state interest to the contrary notwithstanding.
Peaceful acts shall include those which affect only oneself or which merely offend others without invasively and coercively harming them. The government shall recognize that all people have the natural right to be free from the coercive harm of others and to do whatever does not coercively harm others. Economic competition not involving force or fraud shall not be restricted.
"Restricting" under this law shall include any seizure or confiscation of not-stolen property unless the accused is tried in a court of law. This law shall not apply to persons which a court of law deems to be mentally incompetent. Any government official, whether elected or appointed, who votes in favor of legislation, or who imposes regulatory restrictions, contrary to this law, shall be personally liable at court for damage awards.
Constitutions other than that of the USA would substitute their jurisdiction name in place of "Congress."
This constitutional law would in one fell swoop eliminate all laws that created crimes without victims. It would repeal or prevent laws prohibiting or arbitrarily restricting drugs, nudity, gambling, prostitution, pornography, hemp, economic activity, speech, religion, and assembly. The law also removes immunity from being sued in court if any official votes for a law or imposes a regulation restricting peaceful and honest action.
This liberty amendment implements natural moral law, as prescribed by the universal ethic. The universal ethic is a moral imperative for all humanity, derived from human nature. As equal human beings, we are entitled to freedom from arbitrary restrictions and the whims of others.
One reason why liberty in America and other places has been violated by government is that the constitutional provisions for freedom and human rights have been both too vague and too specific. A listing only of particular rights such as free speech and freedom of religion leaves government empowered to violate other rights. There needs to be a general statement recognizing natural rights to liberty and property.
The U.S. Constitution does have a recognition of rights even if not specified. The Ninth Amendment states: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
Unfortunately, this was a bit too brief. This Amendment did not make it clear that these other rights are natural rights, human rights which people have not because government grants them legal rights but because they are inherent in our human nature.
Another problem with the U.S. Constitution is that freedom, liberty, and rights are not defined. The "Liberty Amendment" proposed above rectifies this by explicitly permitting any act that is peaceful and honest, that does not coercively harm others with force or fraud.
Of course, statements in a constitution are not sufficient to provide liberty. The enforcement of constitutional protections requires a structure of government that minimizes the incentives for power and privilege seeking. But the prescription of natural rights and liberty is a necessary first step so that the boundary lines of liberty are explicit and clear.
The Liberty Amendment is a powerful tool for candidates to propose and to test candidates for public office. Ask your candidates if they would support a liberty amendment. If nothing else, it will make them think about freedom and natural rights. It can't hurt.
-- Fred Foldvary
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Copyright 2000 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.