A prior post reviewed the substance of the November 1, 2019, meeting of the U.S. Commission on Unalienable Rights. Now this blogger will set forth his reactions to this meeting.
Reactions to Professor Sunstein
Although I had studied American history many years ago in college and am generally familiar with the subject, I had no knowledge of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights in his State of the Union Address of 1944 that was prominent in Professor Sunstein’s presentation. Therefore, I searched and found the text and context of that Address  which are highlighted below.
1. FDR’s State o the Union Address, 1944
President Roosevelt said he had joined the leaders of the United Kingdom, Russia and China in agreeing that “the one supreme objective for the future” was “security,” meaning “not only physical security which provides safety from attacks by aggressors,” but also “economic security, social security, moral security —in a family of Nations.”
“This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable [sic] political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.” (Emphasis added.)
“As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.” (Emphasis added.)
“We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. ‘Necessitous men are not free men.’ People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.” (Emphasis added.)
“In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed. Among these are:” (Emphasis added.)
- “The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
- The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
- The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
- The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
- The right of every family to a decent home;
- The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
- The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
- The right to a good education.”
“All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.”
“America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”
Blogger’s comments: This set of rights was incorporated into the UDHR under the leadership of the President’s widow, Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1948 and in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that was signed by Presdient Jimmy Carter in 1977, but has , to date, not been ratified by the U.S. Senate. Instead, these issues have been subjects of many proposed, and some adopted, federal statutes.
This FDR speech thus implicitly recognized that the U.S. Declaration of Independence did not attempt to set forth a complete list of “unalienable rights” as of July 4, 1776, nor did it foreclose subsequent articulation of additional unalienable rights.
Reactions to Professor Patterson
I was baffled by Patterson’s assertion that freedom was a tripartite idea: (1) Individuals are free to make choices and do what they want to do; (2) individuals are free to exercise power to influence other people; and (3) individuals are free to share in the collective power of groups. In addition, Patterson said, in the western world freedom is one of the principal values of civilization due to Christianity.
Freedom, Patterson said, has no claim to equality, and elites have opposed rights held by the masses. Moreover, although Patterson retains great love and respect for the concept of freedom, he thinks it is a mistake for the West to proclaim it to the world and try to convert others into showing similar reverence. Rhetorically speaking, rights are more effective tools to achieve similar ends.”
Frankly, I do not see how Patterson’s comments have any impact on the unalienable rights discussion. I invite others to help me understand this presentation.
 Multilateral Human Rights Treaties Signed, But Not Ratified, by U.S., dwkcommentaries.com (Feb. 12, 2013)..