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Reply #9: Thanks for making me relook at “inalienable” vs “unalienable”. Thanks also to FindLaw with its [View All]

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jody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-07-07 12:01 AM
Response to Reply #6
database of SCOTUS decisions and a search engine that allows anyone to look for decisions with the word “inalienable” beginning with the earliest decisions.

Below are in chronological sequence from the beginning, quotations from SCOTUS decisions using “inalienable” relative to rights. I’m neither a lawyer nor constitutional scholar but IMO the citations below use “inalienable” to mean a right that cannot be transferred, the definition you believe was reserved for “unaliebable”.

THE AMISTAD, 40 U.S. 518 (1841)
It is to be remembered, that the government of the United States is based on the principles promulgated in the Declaration of Independence, by the congress of 1776; 'that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and that to secure these rights, governments are instituted.'

LUTHER v. BORDEN, 48 U.S. 1 (1849)
The institution of American liberty is based upon the principles, that the people are capable of self-government, and have an inalienable right at all times, and in any manner they please, to establish and alter or change the constitution or particular form under which that government shall be effected. This is especially true of the several States composing the Union, subject only to a limitation provided by the United States Constitution, that the State governments shall be republican.

DRED SCOTT v. SANDFORD, 60 U.S. 393 (1856)
New York, by its Constitution of 1820, required colored persons to have some qualifications as prerequisites for voting, which white persons need not possess. And New Jersey, by its present Constitution, restricts the right to vote to white male citizens. But these changes can have no other effect upon the present inquiry, except to show, that before they were made, no such restrictions existed; and colored in common with white persons, were not only citizens of those States, but entitled to the elective franchise on the same qualifications as white persons, as they now are in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I shall not enter into an examination of the existing opinions of that period respecting the African race, nor into any discussion concerning the meaning of those who asserted, in the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My own opinion is, that a calm comparison of these assertions of universal abstract truths, and of their own individual opinions and acts, would not leave <60 U.S. 393, 575> these men under any reproach of inconsistency; that the great truths they asserted on that solemn occasion, they were ready and anxious to make effectual, wherever a necessary regard to circumstances, which no statesman can disregard without producing more evil than good, would allow; and that it would not be just to them, nor true in itself, to allege that they intended to say that the Creator of all men had endowed the white race, exclusively, with the great natural rights which the Declaration of Independence asserts. But this is not the place of vindicate their memory. As I conceive, we should deal here, not with such disputes, if there can be a dispute concerning this subject, but with those substantial facts evinced by the written Constitutions of States, and by the notorious practice under them. And they show, in a manner which no argument can obscure, that in some of the original thirteen States, free colored persons, before and at the time of the formation of the Constitution, were citizens of those States.

The theory upon which our political institutions rest is, that all men have certain inalienable rights-that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and that in the pursuit of happiness all avocations, all honors, all positions, are alike open to every one, and that in the protection <71 U.S. 277, 322> of these rights all are equal before the law. Any deprivation or suspension of any of these rights for past conduct is punishment, and can be in no otherwise defined.

EX PARTE GARLAND, 71 U.S. 333 (1866)
The right to practise law in the courts as a profession, is a privilege granted by the law, under such limitations or conditions in each state or government as the law-making power may prescribe. It is a privilege, and not an absolute right. The distinction may be illustrated by the difference between the right of a party to a suit in court to defend his own cause, and the right of another to appear and defend for him. The one, like the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is inalienable. The other is the privilege conferred by law on a person who complies with the prescribed conditions.

Below are some of the earliest SCOTUS decisions using "unalienable".

In the second article of the Declaration of Rights, which was made part of the late Constitution of Pennsylvania, it is declared: 'That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God, according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding; and that no man ought or of right can be compelled, to attend any religious worship, or erect or support any place of worship, or maintain any ministry, contrary to, or against, his own free will and consent; nor can any man, who acknowledges the being of a God, be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right as a citizen, on account of his religious sentiments, or peculiar mode of religious worship; and that no authority can, or ought to be, vested in, or assumed, by any power whatever, that shall, in any case, interfere with, or in any manner controul, the right of conscience in the free exercise of religious worship.' (Dec. of Rights, Art. 2.)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

From these passages it is evident; that the right of acquiring and possessing property, and having it protected, is one of the natural, inherent, and unalienable rights of man.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The constitution expressly declares, that the right of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property is natural, inherent, and unalienable. It is a right not ex gratia from the legislature, but ex debito from the constitution.

BUTLER v. COM. OF PENNSYLVANIA, 51 U.S. 402 (1850)
3d. All commissions (regardless of their form, or by whom issued) contain, impliedly, the constitutional reservation, that the people at any time have the right, through their representatives, to alter, reform, or abolish the office, as they may alter, if they choose, the whole form of government. In our magna charta it is proclaimed (2d section of the Bill of Rights, under the 9th Article of the Constitution of Pennsylvania), that 'all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; for the advancement of these ends they have at all times an unalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish their government, in such manner as they may think proper.' It has been well said, by one of the ablest judges of the age, that 'a constitution is not to receive a technical construction, like a common law instrument or a statute. It is to be interpreted so as to carry out the great principles of the government, not to defeat them.' Per Gibson, C. J., in Commonwealth v. Clark, 7 Watts & S. (Pa.), 133.

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