Academic journal article Sociological Viewpoints

Kevorkian and the Ninth Amendment

Academic journal article Sociological Viewpoints

Kevorkian and the Ninth Amendment

Article excerpt

Editor's Note: This is one in a series of presentations in Kutztown University's Distinguished Speaker Series on Law and Justice. Dr. Kevorkian made this presentation on September 20, 2009 at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. The presentation was transcribed and edited by Timothy O'Boyle and Will Plouffe. The ideas expressed in Dr. Kevorkian's essay are his own and do not necessarily reflect endorsement by the Pennsylvania Sociological Society or any member of the organization.

Well let's start with the basics. How many of you know Amendment IX? The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the PEOPLE. I know there aren't many of you because you're purposely kept ignorant of it.

When the colonies were formed, they were worried about ratification by the colonies, because they all complained; the constitution has no rights in it. We can't ratify that. So they had to come up with a solution. They said, just send in some rights and we'll put it in the Constitution. So there you got the first twelve amendments, and two were thrown out. Madison presented these in the first session of the House. I forget what year. It was early 1760 something, and he made a pest of himself. He kept talking about rights, rights, rights. What was interesting then was this argument between states rights and federal rights. So they gave him the job of putting together the first twelve amendments, two of which were thrown out, and therefore the last two became nine and ten, and these are the important ones.

The really important one when it comes to individual liberty is the Ninth Amendment. Madison really poured over that. He struggled, he took almost a month to get the wording right. Wording, there's only twenty-one words in the Ninth Amendment. The key words are construed; you know what construed means, considered to be, assumed to be, and denied means, and disparaged means. So there is nothing really un-understandable about that. Legal scholars differ when they talk about the Ninth Amendment saying the wording is so murky.

What did Madison mean by these words? As if this thing here is the Da Vinci Code or something. To me, to doubt the meaning of that, saying its murky, borders on insanity, which some legal scholars are. But they have a purpose in keeping you unaware of this; it's never mentioned in school, never talked about. They talked about the First, the Second, and the Third Amendments, all these rights, all of which are included in the Ninth. The Ninth makes all other amendments, including the Fourteenth, superfluous. Woman always had the right to vote under the Ninth, but they kept that secret too, and made them go through torture to get their right to vote.

It boils down to a definition of a right, and a definition of a crime. This is a problem. They can confuse and obfuscate, that is their job. You know, lawyers are skilled at that. As long as they can confuse you, they can keep the Ninth Amendment impotent.

It is the only amendment that has never been used. Can you imagine that? Not once in two-hundred thirty-five years. Why? Because if that amendment becomes known, and if we had an honest Supreme Court, which we don't, then all constitutional issues would be easily solved. A woman's right to vote, incontestable. You couldn't put Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps during December of 1941. You could drink whisky any time you wanted. Could you imagine the absurdity of a law that says you may drink a shot of whisky at 11:59 in the evening one day, and at 12:01 you try it and you go to prison, federal prison? Isn't that absurd? And yet it was solemnly talked about for prohibition law. Even Lincoln said prohibition law is nothing that keeps you from doing something you want to do. So the question is you've got to have restraint. They say if you validated the Ninth Amendment, you'd open the flood gates. You'd have a whole bunch of rights. …

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