Thinking Citizen Blog — “That’s not fair!” vs “Leave me alone!”
Thinking Citizen Blog — Saturday is Justice, Freedom, Law, and Values Day
Today’s Topic: “That’s not fair!” versus “Leave me alone!”
Justice, said Plato, is minding your own business. But when is your business someone else’s business? Is your business ever truly your own? When does “fairness” justify intervention that constrains the freedom of others? Justice Jackson of the US Supreme Court once argued that there are rights so basic that they are “beyond the reach of majorities” and “subject to no election.” Is that really true? Today, a few notes on the meaning of freedom. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE RIGHT TO BE LEFT ALONE — Louis D. Brandeis
1. “The most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.” (Louis D. Brandeis)
2. “The right to be let alone was enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.” (Michael German, Brennan Center for Law and Justice)
3. “The Fourth Amendment is fast becoming an artifact of a paper-based world.” (Calabrese & Harwood, ACLU)
THE RIGHT TO THE FRUIT OF YOUR OWN LABOR
1. Does that right depend on your productivity? should it? Can this right be reconciled with the “progressive” income tax?
2. Should the right be inversely correlated to your productivity?
3. How much weight do the “ability to pay” and “diminishing returns” arguments have when talking about basic rights? Should the majority decide?
THE NINTH AMENDMENT — what are the people’s non-enumerated rights?
1. “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
2. In Griswold v Connecticut (1965) Justices Douglas, Warren, and Brennan used the ninth amendment in their case for a right to privacy. In Roe v Wade the District Court held that the right to an abortion was one of those Ninth Amendment rights.
3. Others have strongly disagreed. Harvard Law professor Lawrence Tribe, “It is a common error, but an error nonetheless, to talk of ‘ninth amendment rights.’ The ninth amendment is not a source of rights as such; it is simply a rule about how to read the Constitution.”
Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to justice, freedom, the law or basic values. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to justice, freedom, the law, or basic values.
Or just some random justice-related fact that blew you away. This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart.