I’m far from a constitutional scholar, but James Madison surely is rolling around and around in his grave.
I awoke this morning, July 4, lamenting the apparent omission of health from the Bill of Rights. Reason being, without health, we are scarcely able to pursue any of the other freedoms with which we, as Americans, are born.
Madison proposed that “there be prefixed” to the Constitution a declaration that “Government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”
Madison’s proposal came about during the ratification process of the Constitution. Much of the debate centered on whether to list all of the individual freedoms of the citizens. Many of those who were against listing every single right, like Madison, argued that this was an impossible task. Today, it should not be a challenge to agree with him, if we only look at our own lives (a particular skill which we Americans possess), and inventory the “inalienable” rights that we attempt to enjoy on a daily basis.
Of course, I say “attempt” because there is no real freedom to do anything when one can’t get out of bed. Forget bearing arms, peacably assembling, acquiring property. It’s all moot. The best the chronically ill can do is post shit on Facebook, and maybe petition their elected officials. But even that is generally a waste of time. Case in point: I traveled to Washington, D.C. (More than 1,000 miles) to meet with one of my Representatives about the Lyme Cryme. After multiple attempts to follow up via email, I received a letter in the mail explaining to me why I should be all for forced vaccination.
I’d say, tongue-in-cheek, that we sick, tortured and abandoned people should go out and commit crimes in order to enjoy a larger portion of the freedoms assigned to us in the Bill of Rights (Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments, all dealing with rights with regard to trial and punishment), but we’ve all seen the horrific conditions of USA Prison, Inc. Even if the chronically ill could get out of their beds and homes to commit some heinous act in a cheeky attempt to exercise this 40% of the Amendments, the only advantage, in the end, would be a guaranteed roof over their head.
The answer to the Constitutional debate over listing all of our freedoms was the Ninth Amendment. It states,
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
To quote Randy Barnett, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory and Director of Georgetown Center for the Constitution, Georgetown University Law Center, at http://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/amendment-ix
“At the end of the list of rights to be added to Article I, Section 9 (where the individual right of habeas corpus was located) Madison would have placed the language that was the forerunner to the Ninth Amendment:”
The exceptions here or elsewhere in the constitution, made in favor of particular rights, shall not be so construed as to diminish the just importance of other rights retained by the people; or as to enlarge the powers delegated by the constitution; but either as actual limitations of such powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution.”
The common interpretation of the Ninth Amendment is that it is basically a disclaimer that human rights are implied and couldn’t possibly be listed in entirety in the Constitution. Just because they aren’t exhaustively listed in the document, doesn’t mean they don’t exist, and shouldn’t be protected by our three branches of government.
Unfortunately, those branches are busy obliterating our rights altogether. Search and seizure? Puh-leeeze. Just ask Edward Snowden why he prefers Russia over the Land of the Free. The Home of the Brave may actually be somewhere in Siberia. Perhaps our soldiers, who commit suicide at a rate of 22 per day (8,030 per year) should seek refuge there. http://nvf.org/category/veteran-suicide/
Privacy? Ask the various federal agencies that I’ve documented snooping on my family’s business Website what it is they find so fascinating about me, and where else they go to gather my personal information. Freedom of speech? How many pro-pharma shills does the Department of Defense deploy against those of us who are on social media, and out in public, every day, speaking up for the rights of the sick, disabled and vaccine-injured? I’d bet my next paycheck that they could provide that number as easily as they could describe my entire personal medical and financial history. Do I have to FOIA my own health records?
So, we have all these specific rights, but not really, and we have this other specific right that’s like backup for all the others that aren’t specifically listed. Can’t we safely assume that the Founding Fathers really wanted to ensure our personal freedoms of “enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety?”
Safety: would that include health? That word didn’t make the final version, did it? Did it get deleted out of redundancy, because technically, one can’t be happy unless he is safe? If somebody is aware of what Madison meant by “safety,” I’d really like to know. Because people who have not committed any crimes have been sentenced to die alone in their own homes, or on the street, without benefit of Amendments Five through Eight. Talk about cruel and unusual. The chronically ill are lesser beings than even hardcore criminals. Should we next expect the NRA to come knocking on our doors, handing out single-use pistols? Disposable guns for disposable people.
On this day of grilling meat, drinking beer, scavenging candy chucked from parade floats, and blowing stuff up, I feel certain that James Madison and his contempories are shaking their heads and muttering a collective “WTF” from beyond the grave. They never could have fathomed the type of weaponry that the United States government would use against its own people, be it biologic, psychological, or cyber.
That was the intent of the Ninth Amendment: when all else fails–even the one about the guns–this place is still for the people and by the people, and our God-given, individual rights as humans on this planet take precedence over everything else.