Thursday, June 18, 2009

Amendment IX: Strict Constructionism? Or Just Plain Ol' Disregard For Actual People?

It could very well be that I'm slow. I doubt it. But that could be the case. It's probably my AP US History teacher's fault. But I doubt that, too. I can read for myself.

Now, granted, I'm no constitutional scholar. And I haven't read up on the latest in law journals. But it seems to me that . . . you know what, let me tell you what I'm actually commenting on. Today, I guess, the Supreme Court ruled that:

Convicts do not have a right under the Constitution to obtain DNA testing to try to prove their innocence after being found guilty, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

You guessed right. It was a split decision. The majority of Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy against the minority of Souters, who Sotomayor will replace, Ginsberg, Stevens, and Breyer. You have to read the article because the case is as interesting as the majority reasoning is specious.

Now we return to my regularly schedule diatribe.

My history teacher told us that the 9th Amendment essentially meant that just because the Constitution doesn't say you have the right to use the bathroom in private doesn't mean you don't have that right. And reading for myself, I think it's quite clear. Just because the Constitutional didn't specifically address some specific right doesn't mean the people don't have it. Now, with the 2nd Amendment and the discussion concerning it in mind, we can argue whether "the people" in this case refer to the American collective or individuals. But let's take for granted it refers to individuals. I actually should've done this long ago, but I was a bit lazy and interested in other things.

Oh! Let me write this down before I forget - I'm going to need to do some quick googling of actual Constitutional scholarly articles about the 9th for my own sake if not for whatever contribution it could have to you.

Here's how I understand the 9th and would explain it to a reasonably intelligent child. You know how children like to argue that it's okay that they take the car even after they've been told not to because their parent(s) didn't precisely say, "You are not allowed to drive that car"? Maybe all Mom said was, "Don't let me catch you driving that car," in which case it's okay so long as you don't get caught. Or, maybe all Dad said was, "Don't let me hear tell of you driving that car," in which case it's okay to drive the car, and maybe even okay if Dad catches you driving the car, so long as he doesn't actually hear about your driving the car.

Well, as we know, not a few of the authors of the Constitution were parents and all had been teenage boys, so they knew to guard the country against specious legal reasoning by saying, "Just because we didn't specify a right doesn't mean the people don't have it."

But here's the thing. You know how conservatives argue that the Constitution doesn't guarantee a right to privacy? Well, you have the 4th amendment for that. The right to abortions? That's in the 9th. Gay marriage? Check the 9th. It's one of those things the conservatives get all funny about when it doesn't apply to them. It's one of those things they become less strict about when they have the chance to jam the individual.

Don't get me wrong. I don't know what legal standing convicts and inmates have in regards to the Constitution. Clearly it's okay, so far anyway, to deny them the right to vote even after they get out. But it does seem fairly quick and easy that they have the right to DNA evidence that may clear them, even if they don't, and here I'm referencing the article, say absolutely that they're innocent.

And too. I'm not trying to render a legal decision. I'm just side with the 4 who were.

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But Don't Jack My Genuis