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Is our Bill of Rights a list of government-guaranteed rights? Absolutely not. The first eight amendments are filled with phrases like, “Congress shall make no law, shall not be infringed, shall not be violated, nor be deprived, shall not be required.” These are not a list of rights generously bestowed by a benevolent government. Instead they are a list of restrictions on government. As a safety measure, they added the caveat that this was not a complete list (IX Amendment).
Rights endowed by God was not a new concept. It went back at least to Marcus Tullius Cicero and the Roman Republic. Cicero searched for what he called natural law. Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC–46 BC) on Natural Rights:
True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting. There will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all time. If so great a power belongs to the decrees of fools that the laws of Nature can be changed by their votes, then why do they not ordain that what is bad be considered good?
The Bill of Rights: America's Bulwark of Liberty by Horace Cooper, Constituting America Fellow
Happy Bill of Rights Day by Tony Williams, Constituting America Fellow