Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Commerce Clause and the 9th Amendment

When the Constitution was originally drafted the anti-federalists opposed the document because it didn't list protections for the individuals.  The federalists who supported ratification didn't think a bill of rights was necessary because the powers of the government were specified.  They saw no reason to specify what would be protected when there was nothing in the Constitution that stated the government could regulate it.  The federalists feared that a Bill of Rights would specify only some rights and leave others with the interpretation that it was not a right and open to government influence.  In this debate, both sides have been proven to have valid points.

Alexander Hamilton stated that there was no need to specify a freedom of the press because there was no power given to regulate the press, but is there any doubt in anybody's mind that Congress wouldn't hesitate to invoke the commerce clause to regulate the press?  There's no doubt in mine.  Congress uses the commerce clause to justify absolutely everything they do.  Considering that newspapers are purchased in states other than where they are printed, Congress would view this as interstate commerce and available for regulation.  In this case the anti-federalists demands for a list of protected rights was absolutely justified.

However, we are also seeing where the government and the judges are interpreting the Bill of Rights to only grant those rights specified, so the federalists were right as well.  The 9th amendment was supposed to protect all rights not enumerated in the Bill of Rights by stating "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."  The intent of this amendment was to ensure that Congress or the president did not take one of their powers and interpret it to cover absolutely everything, but the courts pay little to no attention to the amendment because it doesn't specify certain rights. 

The courts, unable to determine what human rights are or should be, disregard the Constitutional amendment which is supposed to further restrain our government from infringing on our rights through expansions of their own power.  This is sad considering that the information on the intent of the amendment is easily found and interpreted, but then again, what influence does the intent of our Constitution actually have on our judicial system?  Not much.

So what are some of the unenumerated rights that the 9th amendment is supposed to protect?  The right to privacy is one that has been determined via this amendment, but how about the right to spend your own money how you want and on what you would like?  A government mandate on the purchase of insurance is a clear violation of the 9th amendment in that situation.

Isn't it funny how we have an amendment specifically designed to protect us from Congress' belief that they can regulate absolutely everything about our lives, and nobody pays attention to it?

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