Former Bush Official Makes the One Constitutional Error You Cannot Make

Former Bush Official Makes the One Constitutional Error You Cannot Make February 4, 2019

There are few things more annoying to me than when someone — always a conservative, in my experience — makes the “if it isn’t listed specifically in the Constitution, it isn’t a right” argument. Former Bush adviser Brad Blakeman does exactly that in arguing that health care is not a right.

STUART VARNEY (CO-HOST): Senator Kamala Harris declaring for the presidency. She says health care is a right. What do you say about that?

BRAD BLAKEMAN (FORMER DEP. ASST. TO GEORGE W. BUSH): You know, the rights are enumerated in Constitution. I cannot find that in the Constitution. If it’s in a right, if it’s a right that they advance in the Constitution, then it needs to be found there. And it it’s not, then you amend the Constitution.

Okay, so you don’t have a right to send your kids to private school then. Or to travel from state to state. Or to have personal privacy. None of those things is listed in the Constitution as a right, but all of them have full legal protection. When forming the Bill of Rights, the one thing the framers made absolutely clear was that Blakeman’s argument should never, ever be made. It was, in fact, one of the primary arguments against having a Bill of Rights in the first place, that if you listed some rights then future governments would assume that anything not listed is not a right.

But the list of rights that we legitimately have is literally without limit. And the framers knew this. That’s why the put in the 9th Amendment, which says, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” And yet this exact argument, the one the text makes absolutely clear cannot be made, is made all the time by conservatives. But only when it is convenient for them to do so.

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