As reported by the Associated Press, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed on March 14, 2007 that the Ninth Amendment to the United States is now null and void, and that the federal government of the United States of America has no moral legitimacy.
The judges did not explicitly express those statements in their ruling, but that is the implication. The case involved a woman whose life, according to her doctor, can only be preserved with medical marijuana. The judges ruled that the federal government may nevertheless prosecute her for violating federal laws regarding drugs.
The defendant lives in Oakland, California, a state which has legalized the use of medical marijuana for patients with a doctor’s prescription for it. As reported, her illnesses include scoliosis (a spine problem) and a brain tumor. She suffers from chronic nausea, and sued the federal government to prevent being arrested for using medical marijuana to treat her pain and to maintain her appetite.
The U.S. Supreme Court had already ruled that medical marijuana users could be convicted for violating federal marijuana laws even if legal by state law. Therefore, the specific issue in this case was whether the U.S. Constitution recognizes a natural right to life as an unenumerated right recognized by the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That Amendment states, in its entirety, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
The meaning of the Ninth Amendment is that there are rights that people have which are not created by the constitution but precede it, and these rights are recognized by the U.S. Constitution just as much as rights such as free speech that are “enumerated” or explicitly stated. The supreme natural right of a person is the right to live and to protect one’s own life. If this supreme right is “disparaged,” hence ignored or disregarded, or denied, then no other rights have meaning.
The judges ruled that the defendant could be prosecuted by the federal government. They ruled that the right to life is not implicit in the Constitution, which implies that these judges disparage and deny the Ninth Amendment itself. This judgment has killed the Ninth Amendment. That section of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution is now null and void, no longer recognized by the federal judiciary.
The fundamental moral purpose and authority of government is to protect life and liberty. Of course actual governments are not really created to protect life, property, or liberty, but to seize and use power. But morally, the use of government to murder, steal, and destroy is no different from individuals doing this. Government is morally justified not by democracy or a constitution or religious authority but only from enforcing a rule of law that protects human rights. In the United States, the heart and soul of the U.S. Constitution has been the Ninth Amendment, which recognizes all our natural rights, and explicitly prohibits the federal government from denying and disparaging these rights.
Of course the U.S. and other governments routinely violate human or natural rights. But at least their constitutional authority comes from their promise to protect rights. But now the judges of the federal judiciary say that the U.S. Constitutional protection of human rights is now dead. Let us mark and commemorate March 14, 2007, in our calendars as the day that the judges killed the Ninth Amendment. They murdered the spirit of the U.S. Constitution, the spirit of liberty.
Let us commemorate March 14 as the date that the U.S. government lost its remaining moral authority. Congress is at fault for enacting laws that violate the Ninth Amendment, but the way the U.S. government works is by the judicial branch of government having the last say, overruling laws that violate the Constitution. The last nail in the coffin of liberty is the judicial decision to kill the Ninth Amendment.
Where does that leave American citizens? We no longer have a real rule of law, but a rule of men who can decide what portions of the constitution to live by and which to disparage. How can U.S. officials fight against terrorists who murder people if the U.S. government murders by denying people with grave illnesses the means of avoiding death?
An ancient Egyptian poet wrote:
To whom can I speak today?
The land is left to those who do wrong.
To whom can I speak today?
The sin that afflicts the land, It has no end.
Has humanity learned nothing about morality and governance since ancient times?
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FRED E. FOLDVARY, Ph.D., is an economist and has been writing weekly editorials for Progress.org since 1997. Foldvary's commentaries are well respected for their currency, sound logic, wit, and consistent devotion to human freedom. He received his B.A. in economics from the University of California at Berkeley, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University. He has taught economics at Virginia Tech, John F. Kennedy University, Santa Clara University, and currently teaches at San Jose State University.
Foldvary is the author of The Soul of Liberty, Public Goods and Private Communities, and Dictionary of Free Market Economics. He edited and contributed to Beyond Neoclassical Economics and, with Dan Klein, The Half-Life of Policy Rationales. Foldvary's areas of research include public finance, governance, ethical philosophy, and land economics.
Foldvary is notably known for going on record in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology in 1997 to predict the exact timing of the 2008 economic depression—eleven years before the event occurred. He was able to do so due to his extensive knowledge of the real-estate cycle.