Our Conflicting Liberty Heritage from England and France
INTRODUCTION|The original tension of the United States of America is that it was formed based on the highly conservative nature of the English Common Law, made manifest in the Constitution of the United States, but also in the highly progressive spirit of the French Enlightenment, made manifest in the Declaration of Independence. The English Common Law looks back at past authority and embraces it by relying on precedent. The French Enlightenment looked back at past authority and rejected it in full. The Constitution is a legal document. The Declaration is an aspirational one. The word liberty appears in both. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution state that the government shall not deprive any person of “life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law.” The Declaration states that “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” are among the inalienable rights possessed by human beings.
Creighton University School of Law