"Life, faculties, production—in other words; individuality, liberty, property (rights)—this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts precede all human legislation and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." – Frederic Bastiat - The LawThe rule of law, in its proper form, gives sanction to the use of force to protect individual lives, liberties, and property – our rights. In its increasingly common and most perverted form, the “rule” of law gives sanction to the powerful to use force to protect their own interests. Unfortunately, the proper form of law over time gradually devolves into its perverted form. And this is the danger with the premise that rights are derived from law – A man or woman can only have rights so long as their form of government has lawmakers willing to pass legislation to grant those rights. The fatal flaw in this thinking is most easily demonstrated under a totalitarian system of government. If this premise is true, the unfortunate individuals living under the boot of a dictator would have no grounds to claim that their rights were being violated. They may suffer, they may be oppressed, but their rights as human beings could not be violated as the dictator has not enacted laws to grant them rights.
Put in its simplest terms – the premise that rights are derived from laws implies that the absence of laws is the absence of rights. Ask yourself these questions: Did the oppressed minorities suffering under slavery and segregation only gain rights when the laws that made these institutions legal were overturned? Or did they always have rights which were ignored and subverted by the perversion of law?
"Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." – Frederic Bastiat