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Web Letter

In this otherwise fine and prize-winning essay on privacy, you really ignore, rather than deny or disparage, the precious Ninth Amendment to the Constitution that gives us all our rights to individual, marital, family and community (don't let the Feds peak at your public library usage) privacy. The Ninth points to many other unenumerated rights as well.

Please memorize this Amendment, it's only twenty-one words: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Does this sound like a "penumbra" or a shadow or some mystery implicit in four or five amendments? No, it is explicit. We, the people, retain many, many rights so deep and fundamental, so commonsensical and common law, that they do not have to be written into the Constitution! Take "masturbation" for example (or even "mutual masturbation" if you prefer)--a national pastime in the USA and across cultures worldwide. Not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but certainly a basic human right and, for most of us, intimately linked to privacy rights, also not written into the Constitution. Just because they are not written into the Constitution doesn't mean these rights can be denied or disparaged. So says the Ninth Amendment.

Your essay appeals to presidential candidates to make privacy a big issue in the coming election. I agree wholeheartedly. But the way to do this is to celebrate the Ninth Amendment, get it out of the closet, so to speak, and insist on the strict construction of the Constitution, as informed by the Declaration of Independence. Most of the so-called conservatives on the Supreme Court don't give a fig for the Ninth or for our most basic freedoms. Unfortunately, Democrats ignore the Ninth Amendment as well, and consistently reveal themselves to be liberals who know or care little about liberty as enshrined in our Constitution. Worse still, many who call themselves "progressives" don't realize that morally, constitutionally, we have been regressing in recent decades as "rule of law" disappears and few of them want to impeach to restore the Constitution. Don't become one of these sloppy people who can't figure out in the privacy of their own minds that "liberal" means freedom-loving and "progressive" has some precision of meaning only when applied to a disease like alcoholism.

Charlie Keil

Lakeville, CT

Oct 10 2007 - 6:37am

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