I was doing some reading on inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence. This is what I found under my Google search and Answers.com:
Some philosophers and political scientists make a distinction between natural rights and legal rights.
Legal rights (sometimes also called civil rights or statutory rights) are rights conveyed by a particular polity, codified into legal statutes by some form of legislature (or unenumerated but implied from enumerated rights), and as such are contingent upon local laws, customs, or beliefs.
In contrast, natural rights (also called moral rights or inalienable rights) are rights which are not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of a particular society or polity. Natural rights are thus necessarily universal, whereas legal rights are culturally and politically relative.
Blurring the lines between natural and legal rights, U.S. statesman James Madison believed that some rights, such as trial by jury, are social rights, arising neither from natural law nor from positive law but from the social contract from which a government derives its authority.
The social contract is where the government over a particular person derives it power or authority. Americans understand that government is granted power by the person's consent. We are a nation that is ruled by laws that protect individual liberties, which are defined by our Bill of Rights.
Some have thought that this does disservice to international concerns, such as human rights. This is not necessarily so, as specified laws protect a particular nation-state, providing its definitions of custom, norms and "morals".
America has protected itself by understanding the dangers of uniting political and religious agenda. Jefferson's separation of Church and State was to prevent such authoritarial ideology. Jefferson believed in inalienable rights, that were based on natural rights, while Madision understood that the social contract was to be upheld by the rights of citizens within a particular nation state.
Distinctions about these two issues must remain clear, otherwise, we dissolve boundaries of civil rights, and social norm and custom which help to create identification to the people who live within a country's borders.
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