Friday, November 04, 2005

A Quote That Makes No Sense

"I concur with Andy respecting unenumerated rights. I haven't read all the posts here, so this isn't directed at any particular individual, but is simply a statement of my beliefs. I hear it said frequently that there are unenumerated rights "in the Constitution." Most recently, I heard Joe Biden and George Will mention this. It seems to me this mischaracterizes what the framers intended and did. George Mason, among others, voted against the Constitution in large part because it did not include a bill of rights. James Madison and others contended that to provide a list of rights could be misconstrued in the future as limiting the rights (God-given natural rights) we possess. Of course, a few years later, Congress decided to adopt a bill of rights. But Congress and the states were mindful of the original criticism of including a bill of rights. So, they underscored that the bill of rights is not an exhaustive list of rights, and that they had no intention of conferring an open-ended grant of power to government, by including the Ninth Amendment. Unenumerated rights, it seems to me, are rights we have regardless of the Constitution -- which is, after all, a governing document."

The quote posted above was found on The Corner, a web blog maintained by the writers of The National Review.

So let me get this straight. George F. Will (I never associated him with this line of thinking so this is news to me) and Senator Joe Biden say we have non-enumerated rights (that is, rights which are not explicitly stated within our Constitution). But they are mischaracterizing our Founders' intentions because they never thought of the Bill of Rights as an "exhaustive list of rights?"

Hmmm. Doesn't that just prove their point? Isn't that Mr. Biden's argument?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The rights in the Bill of Rights were there because they had been historically suppressed by tyrants. They are very diverse; one would wonder why these particular ones are there but not others. A tyrant would want to suppress jury trials, free speech, states rights, etc... You can't have unenumerated rights "in" the constitution because that is what they are...unenumerated. That is to say, you can't claim the constitution confers a right you want it to under the name of unenumerated rights. Those were things for people to decide, with some rights becoming legislative questions and others not.