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