The framers of the Constitution evidently believed that happiness could be achieved, putting its pursuit up there alongside the unalienable rights to life and liberty. Though governments since then have seen life and liberty as deserving of vigorous protection, for all the public policies aimed at increasing economic growth, people have been left to sort out their happiness.
As pointed out elsewhere, the framers of the Constitution said nothing about life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness being Constitutional rights. What Mr. Porter is referring to is the Declaration of Independence.
Back in August The New York Times editorial had this:
It is an eminently good thing that the anti-suicide measure would require medical specialists to keep track of veterans found to be high risks for suicide. But that’s to care for them as human beings, under that other constitutional right — to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Respect for the grave sacrifices by veterans requires the Senate to strike down the Coburn ploy and hurry this vital measure to President Bush.
I wonder if they know the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Do they think they’re both parts of the same document? Here’s an apt response to the editorial; by Brennan at The American Pundit in August:
Oy vey. Attention Editors: “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” is in the Declaration of Independence, among the inalienable rights of man – not the Constitution. Being a “constitutional right” would imply that it is in, you guessed it, the Constitution.