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Friday, March 27, 2009

The Ninth Amendment

I wonder how many citizens of the United States of America are aware that the Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution forbids the government to limit freedoms and rights that are not listed in the Constitution.

The 9th Amendment is concise in its wordage. Don’t take my word for it; read it in its entirety as reproduced below for yourself:

Amendment 9
The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Clear as mud. Don’t you think? How many people ever talk about or discuss the 9th Amendment? Who would even think about bringing the 9th Amendment into a conversation about our American government? Perhaps, the adherents to the Libertarian Party.

What do you think? What “rights” can we assert are included in that safeguard amendment to our Constitution?

For your contemplation or just for the sake of (perhaps controversial) dialogue, let me throw out a few “rights” that might be covered by the 9th Amendment:
• Safe food, drinking water, and air
• Government-provided comprehensive health care
• Free choice of marriage arrangements (regardless of gender, number of spouses, etc.)
• Freedom from laws or governmental regulations requiring education of children
• The absolute right not to provide financial assistance to private business enterprises
• Purchase of alcohol or any other goods and services at any time on every day of the week (no Sunday laws)
• Freedom from laws or governmental regulations allowing for censorship of any kind including those concerning television, motion pictures, internet, cellular telephones, print media, signs on personal property, etc.
• Immigration into the USA without constraints
• Public breastfeeding
• Public nudity

(Regarding the list of rights above, I have a question for you. Does the following statement seem familiar? “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”)

Disclaimer: The above listing does not necessarily reflect my own personal beliefs, thinking, or perspectives but is intended to provide “food for thought” when addressing the questioning of the meaning of the Ninth Amendment.


Joe C. said...

I'll start...

First of all, one must understand what a right is and isn't. Many confuse natural or human rights, legal or civil rights (aka liberties), and entitlements. Likewise, many demand "rights" but refuse to adhere to or want shielded from the responsibilites or sanctions assumed by its exercise.

Think of it this way: the hallmark of a right is that its exercise cannot place an undue burden on someone else -- i.e. the "cost" (or consequence) is borne by the one who exercises it; a civil right has the additional cost to others only in its protection, but its exercise cannot otherwise obligate another; and an entitlement transfers an undue cost to someone other than the one exercising it.

For that reason, regardless of the terminology, health care, for example, can never be a right, only an entitlement.

Tim Higgins said...


There was a great concern when the Bill of Rights was passed that some damned fool would come along at a later date and insist that only those rights listed in the these amendments would be protected. Having only just secured freedom from Great Britain and asserting their rights in the Declaration of Independence, they felt such fears to be rather reasonable.

The 9th Amendment therefore states that just because it isn't on the list, doesn't mean you don't have it.

As for your list, I suspect that you are correct and that such a discussion could prove lively.

Tim Higgins said...

On the other hand, perhaps the entire country is in a state of anarchy...

Roland Hansen said...

Joe C., I must say that I really enjoyed reading your thought-provoking comments.
Mi amigo, Tim Higgins, your poignant observations are noted and appreciated.

Roland Hansen said...

Apparently, some people have very poor reading comprehnsion or are just plain ignorant when trying to argue their own point.

I use Greg Morris as an example who in his haste to attack another person and to defend his own conservative views wrote: "Nonsense. This is roland hansen's opinion, nothing else. And from reading it, one could argue that Obama doesn't even agree with it." over on The Progressive, Co-ops Superior to Corporations.

To which I exclaim: What an asinine, moronic statement!

It is quite apparent to me that Greg Morris either failed to read or failed to comprehend or refused to accept the disclaimer that I wrote at the ending of my commentary.

Here, I will repeat that disclaimer in its entirety:
Disclaimer: The above listing does not necessarily reflect my own personal beliefs, thinking, or perspectives but is intended to provide “food for thought” when addressing the questioning of the meaning of the Ninth Amendment.