Reasons for the 1776 Revolution

 “Before the Constitution and before the Bill of Rights there was the Declaration of Independence. The founders took little time to enshrine in the Declaration of Independence the most fundamental and primary right from which all other rights flow: that is the Right to Revolt against an oppressive government.”

– Winston Weeks

On this Independence Day, as every Independence Day, I like to ponder the Declaration of Independence to which those gone before pledged lives, fortunes and sacred honor.

This year — as always — particular passages seemed as pertinent today as they did over 200 years ago.

For example — consider the failure of our Congress and President to protect citizens from environmentally-related illness, and to enact and enforce basic workplace health and safety guarantees, and to refuse to regulate emissions in an age of global climate change — and then recall the reasons given by our founders for deciding to separate from King George and the British Crown:

“.. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. …”

Or, the collusion between our Government and mammoth multinational corporations in entering alliances such as WTO and NAFTA and GATT having the power to gut the power of our legislature to protect our environment, to assure safety and well-being of our workers and to protect all Americans from unwholesome, unsafe, unhealthy and dangerous goods:

“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation”

“For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments”

“For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.”

And consider the passage of the Patriot Act, its use of military tribunals, refusal to recognize the International Criminal Court, and the long-continuing Wars of Occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq, waged with impunity and against the will of the nation and the United Nations family of nations, and now  the Trump-Bolton regime recently declaring itself above the Rule of  Law and the prohibiting by force and diplomatic expulsion all investigation of the International Criminal Court of US state crimes in Afghanistan and the US itself:

“He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He is at this time transporting large armies… to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized nation”

This is our Declaration of Independence, which along with the Constitution of the United States, provides the basis of loyalty to our Republic, and which is at risk as never before.

Matthew Stanton is a Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

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