Thus, the Republican Constitution recognizes that the primary duty of government is to protect individuals’ preexisting rights. Or, as Barnett repeats frequently (so frequently that it takes on an almost hypnotic quality): first come rights and then comes government. Moreover, the rights secured by government are inalienable (“unalienable” in the Declaration’s idiosyncratic phrasing), meaning that they can’t be waived or sold off to accomplish some other goal, even if the majority wants to do so. For the Founders, our rights did not depend on the shifting tides of public opinion.
But peers rejected his assurances in the vote - the second government defeat of the day. Earlier, peers had voted for stronger protection of trafficked children.