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Let's list the ways this amendment doesn't make sense. Some of it will be written down.
Happy Holiday weekend, friends. Every time you read Okay History, it’s a holiday to me.
Did you complete everything you wanted to get done by today? Most people I know get out of work early on the Friday before a long weekend, and they have a list of things they need to accomplish before the clock strikes at 2:00 or 3:00 and no longer worry about work until Tuesday.
Are you a maker of lists? I create work lists all the time. Then I get tired of making lists. Anonymous keeps lists in her head, and recently, she has written down a list of actions that need to be completed for our house to function as a place of love and respect – this has been monumental in our love and respect.
But some things aren’t on the list. Does that mean those things aren’t important? I don’t write out, take a shower, because it is understood that taking a shower is both loving and respectful to the person you live with.
Despite writing out a list, we still keep a list running in our heads.
However, there can be confusion if, say, dusting the house is not listed. What happens, then?
Do I dust the house? Does she dust the house? Blue most certainly is not dusting the house. Does the house sit in perpetuity undusted? Imagine the chaos and confusion of not listing this important task.
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The Constitution of the United States is one giant list of laws. It spells out the rights we have as citizens, what powers each branch of the government is tasked to complete, and affords the opportunity to cross out amendments that we determine aren’t okay.
When the Framers convened to write a list, there were two camps of thought – Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Federalists were against the idea of a Bill of Rights – an enumerated list of protections. Anti-Federalists wouldn’t live up to their unoriginal moniker if they didn’t take the opposite view.
Anti-Federalists won because we ended up with a Bill of Rights, which really should be called a List of Rights, but confusion remained because what happens in the future when someone asks about a right that isn’t listed?
What happens if dusting the house has been omitted? Does it get done? Why wasn’t it added?
So many questions.
This brings us to the Ninth Amendment. The unspoken rights amendment. Let’s enumerate.
20: Amendment IX
Its purpose: The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Year proposed: 1789
Year Ratified: 1791
The Ninth Amendment has been good for arguing the theory of its existence. It’s rarely been cited in Supreme Court decisions, which means it’s had limited, if any, impact on our lives.
Instead, we can argue and discuss the history of why this amendment exists and what it means!
Isn’t that fun? Which is good, right?
Let’s list the ways!
There is no consensus as to what this amendment covers exactly. So while arguing can be seen as good, the arguments are all over the map.
Libertarian legal scholars have argued that the Ninth Amendment includes an individual’s natural rights. Conservatives think the amendment is limited to rights guaranteed under state laws, and liberal scholars don’t seem to take much of a position about it because they live their lives being all liberal and whatnot.
Justice Robert Jackson gave a lecture in 1955 and stated that the Ninth Amendment was still a mystery.
In 1987, Supreme Court nominee, Robert Bork, called it an ink blot. We don’t refer to him as Justice Bork for many reasons, but this stance on a meaningless amendment is pretty funny.
In 1947 the Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in United Public Workers vs. Mitchell that Congress has the right to reasonably limit the activities of its employees, in this case, when it comes to political engagement such as campaigns.
Congress passed the Hatch Act, then updated it in 1940, prohibiting federal employees from engaging in political activities.
The UPW sued, saying it was unconstitutional.
We had nine justices in 1947, but only seven were involved in discussing and deciding the case.
One Justice that sat out – Robert Jackson.
Come on, Bobby.
Who proposed it?
James Madison added this amendment along with the other nineteen he proposed during the Constitutional Convention.
Madison was initially against a list of rights, thinking everything was protected in Article One, Section 8 of the Constitution, which enumerated the powers of Congress, and anything outside that list, should be considered unconstitutional.
Then he changed his mind. Something James was pretty good at.
He then wrote the Ninth Amendment, and the First Congress passed it.
Why did I rank it here?
The Ninth Amendment is another one of these “Oh Yeah; this is an amendment.” It’s the DUST THE HOUSE on a to-do list that is simply known and yet, not written down.
The NRA has argued that the Ninth Amendment also protects the right to own guns. So that alone drags this sucker down.
Okay, let me know what you think of my ranking.
I’d like to wish everyone a happy Memorial Day. This federal holiday honors those in the military who have died while serving. The tradition can be traced back to the immediate ending of the Civil War when former Confederate states held parades and decorated graves of rebel soldiers.
In 1868, former Union Army General John Logan, as a member of the House of Representatives, issued a proclamation of an annual national Decoration Day, where people would go to cemeteries for the purpose of decorating and honoring the soldiers who fought for the country, usurping the ritual from their neighbors in the South.
Over the next few decades, the country began to include fallen World War I & II soldiers. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York, the birthplace of Memorial Day. I’m not sure why, but okay.
In 1971, Memorial Day became an official holiday that includes every war we have fought.
I hope you have a restful and relaxing Memorial Day holiday weekend. I will be taking Monday off from the Maundy Monday Newsletter and instead will be focusing on reading some books and writing some pieces that I will feature later.
I will be back next Friday with an Ask Me Anything. We had two excellent questions in the comment section, so I plan on diving into those.
If you end up at a party, I hope you have potato salad. I wrote about it last year, so be sure to check out why Dukes Mayo should be an Amendment to the Constitution. hours
Until next Friday, be okay.