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Boaz’s Blog 005. How the Ninth Amendment and Declaration of Independence could influence an Article Five Convention

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When I think of our country’s goals, I think  of an America whose dreams are yet unfulfilled. That’s because I look to the Declaration  of Independence for guidance on our country’s purpose and not the  Constitution.

Think back for a moment to the summer of 1766, when the political and commercial leaders of  “thirteen united States”(thirteen colonies a day earlier) risked everything to  publicly declare, in unanimity, that “all men” (now commonly interpreted to mean “all persons”) were born with certain  inalienable rights. And, “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their  just  powers from the consent of the  governed.” I quote from the Declaration to demonstrate the intent of our revolutionary leaders to establish a democratic government based on securing human  rights of the individual.

Something funny happened on the way to the Constitution, however. By 1789, the United States had  ratified a Constitution whose preamble states that the Constitution  is established “to form a  more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic  Tranquility, provide for the  common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…” Big on nationhood. Not much  of an endorsement of human  rights. Sounds more like provisions from a Republican party platform.

My take from the preamble is that the main purpose of the Constitution  is to give the government a  structure  so it can more  effectively strengthen the nation’s military, keep the nation at peace, improve general living conditions, provide a  just system of law and order, and by the way, secure the benefits of being a free and  sovereign country.

You may  wonder what happened to our country between 1786 and 1787 to cause constitutional  delegates to  ignore the Declaration’s promise that  governments are  created to secure the  rights of  the  people. Nor was there any reference to the Declaration’s stated  hope that the  people would establish a new government (following colonial rule)  “laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form…most likely to  effect their  Safety and Happiness.”

A great ideal in 1776 ; still great, yet unachieved in 2016: government  based on people’s rights. But in order for that to   work, government would have to secure all rights, otherwise the distribution of services and resources would be imbalanced. Even  with the  1791 addition to the Constitution of  ten amendments–the so-called Bill of Rights, there was never the  intent that the ten represented a comprehensive body of rights.

Five of the amendments are direct reactions to the abuses of the British system of colonial justice–both  civil and criminal.  With the  exceptions of the rights to religious freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, there are no cultural rights. Nor does the  Bill of Rights have educational or safety rights (including health, environmental, and economic/work-related rights); with the  exception of the  Second Amendment.

We know from the wording of the Ninth Amendment, that we have rights not written in or protected by the Constitution:

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

American revolutionaries  pledged to each  other  their lives, fortunes,  and honor, to declare independence and secure certain inalienable rights. Yet, of eight rights referred to in the Declaration, a weakened version of only one of them  is included in the  Constitution.  My question  is this: Why were the rights of the Declaration worth killing  and dying for, but not worth securing in the Constitution?

In the next blog I’ll discuss what we have been missing by not  having the rights  of the Declaration of Independence in the Constitution and  why they should be proposed as constitutional amendments at an Article  Five ConventionIf you found this article to be provocative, you’ll find Boaz’s book, Seven Rights for Citizen Slackers to be revolutionary.  Expected publication in soft cover and e-book by late September or early October, 2016. Download 3 Free Chapters from the book here http://www.article5alive.org/signup/


Next: Blog 006. Eight Rights  of the Declaration of Independence