Fifty percent (50%) of voters nationwide believe that the rights we enjoy as Americans were given to us by the government and the Constitution. A ScottRasmussen.com survey found that another 50% believe we were endowed by our Creator with certain rights that no government can take away.
This divided understanding is found across virtually all measured partisan and demographic groups. Liberal voters are somewhat more likely to believe that rights come from the government while conservatives lean in the opposite direction. However, even in that case, the differences are fairly modest (see crosstab results).
Our nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, states that the very purpose of government is to protect our unalienable rights including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The founders of the nation believed in natural rights, the idea that as human beings we all possess certain rights that no government can take away.
That cultural commitment to freedom is highlighted in data released earlier showing that 93% of voters agree with a sentiment sometimes defined as the American Creed: Every American should have the right to live their own life as they see fit, so long as they respect the rights of others to do the same.
However, while cherishing the ideal, there are doubts about how well we live out that creed. Only 49% believe that most Americans respect the right of other people to live their own life as they see fit. Just 32% believe that it respects the right of every American to live their own life as they see fit.
A majority of Americans regard each of the rights confirmed in the Bill of Rights to be “absolutely essential.” Freedom of speech tops the list and the right to bear arms attracts the most doubts. Regardless, the new survey data shows, there are differences of opinion as to how we received those rights.
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The national survey of 1,001 Registered Voters was conducted February 26-27, 2019 by ScottRasmussen.com and HarrisX, a polling company specializing in online surveys (see Methodology). It has a 3.1 percentage point Margin of Error with a 95% level of confidence.
Neither Scott Rasmussen nor ScottRasmussen.com has any relationship with Rasmussen Reports® (see About Us).