A mistake is often made when people quote the Constitution of the United States of America. That historic document declares that all Americans have certain UNALIENABLE rights among which are listed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, the word often used when people quote the Constitution is the word INALIENABLE, which is incorrect but seldom realized as so.
Before someone says they mean the same thing and so the using of one or the other is insignificant, I would like to point out the difference that is ever so slight but essential to language being used correctly.
The word "unalienable" refers to rights that are inherent in man and are not rights that can be surrendered, bought, or transferred. Unalienable rights are a gift from the Creator to each individual and as such, cannot be taken away for any reason.
The government cannot take them as the government did not provide them. In fact, the only responsibility the government has toward unalienable rights is to secure them or to create an environment that protects them.
This point was clearly stated in a court ruling in 1892 entitled Budd vs People of the State of New York. That ruling said, " Men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienablerights, 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;' and it is to 'secure,' not grant or create these rights, for which governments are instituted."
The list in the Constitution can be expanded since it says "among which are" and then lists life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We could add such things as self-government, self defense, nature's necessities of air, food, water, clothing and shelter as well as worship. Such rights are absolutely incapable of being transferred lawfully, unlawfully, privately or by implication or operation of law.
That which is your unalienable right is a part of you in an absolute sense and could no more be removed from you than could your blood be removed and you live without it.
INALIENABLE rights, on the other hand, can be surrendered, sold, or transferred with the consent of the individual because they are NOT inherent [unalienable] and the government CAN alienate these from an individual, if a person consents, either actually or constructively, since the government may be the source of these individual rights.
Most State Constitutions refer to only inalienable rights it is true. But it is our UNALIENABLE RIGHTS to which our Constitution addresses itself and recognizes them as given to us by our Creator. It could be the loss of recognition of our Creator is what is leading to the mistaken general use of these two words in our modern day language.
People do have both but they are not the same at all. So, clearly, the words are not to be used as synonyms though often are among otherwise intelligent people.