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The Rights Stuff: Pompeo’s New Commission Tackles Freedom

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We know how the founders defined human rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Two hundred forty-three years later, those rights haven’t changed — but our understanding of them certainly has. There wouldn’t be enough parchment in colonial America if Thomas Jefferson had to include all of the ridiculous new interpretations of the concept. Suddenly, free health care is a “basic human right.” So is college tuitionU.S. immigration, and abortion-on-demand. If Americans want to advance human rights, President Trump believes, we have to agree on what they are. And that’s where the State Department comes in.

Earlier today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a big step to make sure Americans are all reading off the same page when it comes to our fundamental freedoms. Words like “rights,” he said at this morning’s press conference, can be used for “good and evil.” It’s time, he insisted, to revisit the most basic questions. “The distinctive mark of Western civilization is the belief in the inherent worth of human beings, with the attendant respect for God-authored rights and liberties,” Pompeo has said. What are those rights and liberties? His new commission aims to explain.

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