Reviving a Natural Right: The Freedom of Autonomy Amendment


Reviving a Natural Right: The Freedom of Autonomy Amendment

Michael Anthony Lawrence

Something is wrong in twenty-first century America when it comes to recognizing certain “self-evident truths” of freedom identified in its founding document nearly 23 decades ago. In particular, the United States today fails to uphold the core principle of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal: that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights: that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This description was more than just an accidental well-turned phrase – as demonstrated by the historical record, it represented the very foundation of the Revolutionary political theory, and was intended to draw strict boundaries for the proper reach of government. America of the early twenty-first century is a place where oppressive state constitutional amendments discriminate against same-sex couples; where compassionate end-of-life choice is illegal in 49 states and where the one state where it is legal is being sued by the U.S. government; where tens of thousands are in prison for possessing or using marijuana; where a woman’s right to maintain control over her own reproductive decisions hangs by a thread; and where religious freedom is under relentless attack. How is it that Tocqueville’s prediction of a “wholly new species of oppression…, [where] the democratic government, acting in response to the will of the majority, … create[s] a society with a network of … [rules] that none can escape” has indeed come to pass?

This essay explores progressively the nature of the right of “freedom of autonomy,” several present-day applications and the right’s historical foundations, then asserts that nothing short of a constitutional amendment prohibiting federal and state government from abridging any person’s individual freedom of autonomy on matters of natural private concern will suffice in protecting the right as it was envisioned at the time of America’s founding and reaffirmed in the Reconstruction. Now is the time for change.


Constitutional Law

Date of this Version

April 2005