NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution that would declare that men’s rights are not derived from the government, but from God, has advanced in the state Senate.
House Joint Resolution 37 was introduced by Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesboro, and simply reads, “[I]t is proposed that Article I of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by adding the following language as a new, appropriately designated section: We recognize that our liberties do not come from governments, but from Almighty God.”
The resolution passed the House last year and was cleared by a Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday with six yea votes and a single no vote.
“We’ve never lived in a time such as we do now. It is important that we give the citizens of Tennessee the opportunity to reaffirm that their liberties do not come from Donald Trump, Barack Obama, or the King of England. They come from God,” Van Huss said in a statement last May after the resolution passed the House 69-17.
If approved by the legislature this year, it will then have to clear both Houses by a two-thirds majority next year before it can be placed on the ballot for voters. The vote would be held during the next gubernatorial election year, which is 2022.
Columnist Dan Cabrese weighed in on the matter on Wednesday, noting that “rights don’t come from the state. The state only protects them.”
“[T]he Constitution implicitly acknowledges that it lacks the authority to either grant or take away your rights, because the power from which they came is higher than government. That power can only be God, and if you doubt that this is what the framers intended, all you have to do is read the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence—which many of the framers signed—to know who they believed was the giver of these rights,” he wrote.
Cabrese said that it is “crucial that the state doesn’t pretend rights just are, but that in fact they come from a specific source, and that source is God.”
“Because if rights just are, then their source is nothing, and the state can overrule nothing any time it feels like it. But it can’t overrule God, because it’s already acknowledged His superiority,” he outlined.
The U.S. Declaration of Independence declares, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…”
Romans 13 also outlines that government leaders “are God’s ministers” for good, and “are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.”