The Declaration of Independence and the Force of Law

July 4th, 2013

Happy Independence Day everyone! While many will read the Declaration of Independence today, how many realize that it still has the force of law (or should I say, the fourth of law!)? It does My article Original Citizenship  answers just this question–does the Declaration of Independence still have legal relevance under our Constitution

Here is an excerpt from the piece:

While Americans are fond of celebrating the birthday of the Unit- ed States every year on July 4th, this date, as well as the Declaration, has no constitutional significance. Fireworks and barbecue aside, for legal purposes the practical starting date of the U.S. is 1789, when President Washington was inaugurated and the first Congress met. Our courts do not take cognizance of the Declaration. Yet to a member of the first Congress or a federal judge in 1789, the United States was not an infant, but was an old, familiar friend, and by 1789, such congressmen and judges had no doubt considered themselves to be U.S. citizens for quite some time. The Constitution merely represented a new form of government for a preexisting country. Article VII concludes that the Constitution was submitted to the states in the year “of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth.” The Constitution includes a direct textual and historical link to the Declaration and the year 1776.

So, while you are enjoying your hotdogs and fireworks, praise the Declaration, which even today retains legal vitality.