There are a number of oft-used phrases that exist in the vernacular of the day that it seems many believe are found in the U.S. Constitution. Here’s six interesting and frequently used phrases or words that are actually not used in the U.S. Constitution.

6) “Separation of church and state.” – I was speaking with an unnamed journalist during the past week, and this person asked me what I had learned in Church last time I was there. I said “I was actually reading the Constitution and a talk by Brigham Young in Church.” This person said “you’re supposed to have separation of church and state.” I told the said writer the phrase is not found in the U.S. Constitution. It actually comes from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802.

5) “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness . . .” – This phrase is actually found in the Declaration of Independence, and was influenced by the philosopher John Locke (Life, liberty and estate) and father of economics Adam Smith (Life, liberty and the pursuit of property). Many of Locke’s ideas were highly influential on the philosophies and thinking of many of the Founding Fathers. The right to life, liberty and property were also the focus of the Articles of Association that came out of the First Continental Congress held in 1774. This document was a precursor to the Declaration as it unified the colonies against heavy handed and growing control from Great Britain.

The phrase “pursuit of happiness” was first coined by Samuel Johnson in a novella of his called Rasselas. The important thing to note here is that the character in the novel concludes that happiness isn’t something that is easy to obtain, or in essence, that it is the pursuit that is the right and not the happiness itself. That part is up to the person.

4) “Freedom of expression . . .” – This phrase isn’t found in the U.S. Constitution at all despite some people’s belief that it is part of the First Amendment. The true text is as such:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Or, in essence, “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. I think it’s important to note how the First Amendment protects the individual freedom and not necessarily just the speech.

3) “Democracy.” – It isn’t found in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. The Founding Fathers actually foresaw a republic and not a democracy. In fact, James Madison (who is considered to be the father of the Constitution) himself wrote in Essay No. 10 of the Federalist Papers the following: “… democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

2) “Executive privilege . . .” – Not in the Constitution. It’s just a presidential tradition, not a privilege or even a law. Literally. In the US vs Nixon, the Supreme court said it does apply, but more to matters of national security. It’s really just a belief that has been passed down and practiced since the time of George Washington, which is why the act is often followed with a court case.

1) “No taxation without representation . . .” – Not in the Constitution. It was just a political slogan used in the latter half of the 1700s. There’s the marketing spin on this post.