Andrew Von Sonn

Articles - It's About Freedom

by Andrew Von Sonn, J.D.

On June 18, 1979, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision affecting the fundamental Rights of all of us. On the surface, their ruling dealt with the right of government to control the prescribing of unapproved drugs - in this case, laetrile - a substance preferred by some in the treatment of cancer.

More basically, however, the decision dealt with the relationship between the "state" and the People in this land we call America. The Court's ruling assumed a certain "We're Big Brother; we know what's best for you," status in our government. It made apparent that the Court had lost touch with the essence of our political system - a system whose very legitimacy rests upon principles standing directly opposed to the Court's ruling.

These principles, these "self-evident truths" were declared to all the world in 1776:

"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 whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness . . ."

The language is quite clear. Government is a creation of the People. It is comprised of nothing more than equal beings with delegated authority. Its purpose, its rationale for existence, is to secure the Right of each of us to "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" - Rights which are "unalienable," emanating from the Source of Creation, not from government. We are equal before Creation; equal in our essential essence; equal in our relationships.

The totality of this concept is very real, having far reaching, all pervasive, political and existential consequences - most notably, with respect to our personal lives, that as long as we do not interfere with the Rights of others, we each have the "unalienable" Right to pursue and explore existence, to come to terms with existence, in accordance with our own perceptions - a guarantee noticeably reaffirmed by our First Amendment Right to Freedom of Religion. Our personal lives belong to us; they have never been delegated away.

The controversy over laetrile is a controversy over differing perspectives and opinions on how to deal with cancer. Each view, at base, whether articulated or not, inherently incorporates a concept of existence in its rationale - a perception of both the physiology and essentiality of life.

Each determination is of a personal nature. To those with cancer, the choice is more than academic, it is of life and death, interfering with the Rights of no one. Government's attempted imposition of authority over such a personal area requires nothing less than a philosophy of inequality, an ascription of superiority by those in "power."

Clearly, what is at stake here transcends the laetrile controversy and goes to the very heart of our political system - to the fundamental issue of our freedom. Either we are a nation "conceived in liberty" or one where the will of the individual is handed to the state. Either we, as a political system, believe in equality and personal freedom or we believe in inequality and "Big Brother."

Considering the fact that our basic political agreement recognizes the Source of our freedom to be Creation rather than government, and that we are each equal before Creation and in our relationships, and that we each have an "unalienable" birthright of freedom, it is difficult to reconcile the Supreme Court's opting for "Big Brother."

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