This Fourth of July, Celebrate SCOTUS Rulings That Embrace the Spirit of the Declaration of Independence

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Opinion

Chris Talgo

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Posted: Jul 04, 2022 8:30 AM

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

On July 4, 2022, Americans will celebrate another Independence Day with the usual fanfare of family barbecues, town parades, firework shows, and all sorts of other summertime festivities.

However, this Independence Day, the 246th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, should be especially significant to those of us who hold the Declaration of Independence, and the ideals it espouses, in high regard.

What makes this particular Independence Day so special? It happens to coincide with a recent renaissance of the principles of freedom that our Founding Fathers outlined on that glorious summer day in 1776.

The Declaration of Independence states, “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.”

For much of American history, we have remained faithful to the essence of the Declaration of Independence, captured in the words above. Yet, in recent decades, we have strayed from those ideals by allowing our government to undermine these self-evident truths.

But, it seems as if we are about to embark upon a period in which at least one branch of the federal government, the judicial branch in the form of the U.S. Supreme Court, is pledging fidelity to those self-evident truths.

Over the past two weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued a series of rulings that absolutely embrace the ethos of the Declaration of Independence, and for that, we should celebrate.

When it comes to the seminal issue of life, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is a game-changer. While the ruling does not ban abortions, as many leftists would have you believe, it returns to the issue to its rightful place: the states.

Rather than having nine justices in black robes declare rights that do not exist anywhere in our founding documents, the current iteration of the Supreme Court believes we the people should have a say over these matters through the electoral process, instead of judicial fiat.

On the issue of liberty, we also have much to rejoice. Over the past several days, the Supreme Court has issued decisions that reinforce the basic liberties our Founding Fathers considered sacred.

For instance, the Court upheld religious liberty in the Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, finding, “The Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from government reprisal; the Constitution neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression.”

The Court also defended Americans’ fundamental liberty to bear arms in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, concluding, “New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense.”

Along with our unalienable rights to life and liberty, the Declaration also maintains that as Americans, we have the right to pursuit of happiness. Although this fundamental right may be less definitive than life and liberty, it certainly remains a pillar of the American experiment.

In short, the pursuit of happiness refers to the fact that all Americans can “pursue” any endeavor, vocation, or activity without fear of government coercion or reprisal. While this phrasing of a fundamental right may seem more ambiguous than life and liberty, it remains a keystone of what the Founding Fathers envisioned for the new nation.

On this note, the Supreme Court’s recent decision in EPA v. West Virginia, wherein the Court dealt a devastating blow to an executive agency that has vastly overreached its authority by issuing stifling regulations that impair our ability to pursue happiness, is reason to revel, too.

Even more reason for optimism, at least for those who embrace the dogma of the Declaration, is the fact that the Court is just getting started on its quest to revive the principles championed by the Founding Fathers on July 4, 1776.

In coming terms, the Court will hear cases on election integrity, affirmative action, and a plethora of other issues that are central to the preservation of our republic.

Happy Independence Day, America!

Chris Talgo is senior editor at The Heartland Institute.