Constitutional power inherently belongs to the people

A … government … cannot have the right of altering itself. If it had, it would be arbitrary. It might make itself what it pleased and wherever such a right is set up, it shows there is no constitution.

—Thomas Paine. The Rights of Man, 1791.

The right to amend a constitution belongs solely and directly to the people. Common sense rejects the possibility that something that touches the people’s welfare so directly can be entrusted to delegates. It would be like an individual delegating the decision of whether to commit suicide. Thus the delegation of legislative power to agents (legislators) is legitimate only so long as the people retain the ability to discharge their agents and undo unwanted laws. For this reason, under the natural law legislatures cannot change the constitution. Yet this is what the legislatures of Europe have purported to do in entering into the European Union treaties (There have been a few sporadic referendums in a few countries but most countries, for most of the key treaties, have not held referendums.), and for this reason the entire European Union project is void under the natural law.

It is impossible to surrender legislative power

All men are born free; liberty is a gift which they receive from God himself; nor can they alienate the same by consent, though possibly they may forfeit it by crimes … . Much less can he give away the lives and liberties, religion or acquired property of his posterity, who will be born as free as he himself was born, and can never be bound by his wicked and ridiculous bargain.

—John Trenchard. Cato’s Letters No. 59, Liberty proved to be the unalienable Right of all Mankind, Saturday, March 11, 1721.

Even if the European Union treaties had been submitted to the people of the member states for ratification, they would still be void under the natural law. The treaties purport to surrender legislative power by providing that any legislation inconsistent with the treaties will be void. This is in breach of the natural law because legislative power, being a fundamental right, cannot be alienated. Nor will any future entrenchment provisions, designed to make the union indissoluble, be of any effect.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove