Barack Obama apparently wants to create a Second Bill of Rights for the U.S. Constitution.
This would provide “positive rights” such as those enshrined in the South African Constitution–rights to health care, housing, work, a clean environment, et cetera.
It sounds lovely, and is a much-beloved dream of the legal academic left. Unfortunately, it is an absolute disaster.
History and present-day experience teach us that the best way to ensure that those rights are violated is to enshrine them in constitutional form.
Doing so allows politicians to claim they have achieved something simply by providing rights, without having to actually provide the substance of those rights. The rights themselves are unenforceable, and provide for a massive expansion of government power that undermines existing “negative” rights.
It is worth noting that the Soviet Constitution also had plenty of “positive rights.” Look how well that worked out.
This whole subject requires far more extensive treatment than I have time for at the moment. For now, it suffices to say that Obama’s dream of court-enforced redistribution is directly connected to the idea of “positive” rights–an idea, not coincidentally, that is shared by many of the Harvard Law professors who now claim credit for Obama’s development and contribute heavily to his campaign.
Cross-posted at GTTP.