From Edwin Meese III’s introductory essay in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution titled The Meaning of the Constitution, the basis for the sovereignty of the people is established.

“Several important themes permeated the completed draft of the Consitution.  The first, reflecting the mandate of the Declaration of Independence, was the recognition that the ultimate authority of a legitimate government depends on the consent of a free people.  Thomas Jefferson had set forth the basic principle in his famous formulation:

‘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 deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’

That ‘all men are created equal’ means that they are equally endowed with unalienable rights.  Nature does not single out who is to govern and who is to be governed; there is no divine right of kings.  Nor are rights a matter of legal privilege or the benevolence of some ruling class.  Fundamental rights exist by nature, prior to government and conventional laws.  It is because these individual rights are left unsecured that governments are instituted among men.”

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