Dear Dr. Boli: Reading over the United States Constitution (which of course, like all enlightened humanities students, I enjoy ironically), I noticed that, in the very terse and compressed language of the Bill of Rights, there is one amendment that comes with a preamble, almost as if the authors thereof had intended to establish some important context for the legal principle to follow. I refer to the Second Amendment, which begins with the words “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” What is the precise legal meaning of that preamble? —Sincerely, A Freshman Student of History at Duck Hollow University.

Dear Sir or Madam: According to the United States Supreme Court, the final authority on matters of constitutional law, the precise legal meaning of those words is “Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.”

This is not the only or even the most egregious example of superfluous text in the Bill of Rights. According to modern legal theory, the entire Ninth Amendment has no meaning whatsoever.


  1. tom says:

    Thank goodness we at least still have that Magna Carta thing

  2. The Shadow says:

    The gutting of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments is nothing but raw juridical insolence. Words apparently don’t mean what they very plainly say!

    • Belfry Bat says:

      There is a plain difficulty with the 9th and 10th (and the second has the same difficulty, though it’s been leveraged in the opposite direction): because it can’t enumerate the unnamed rights, it also gives no way to understand what counts and what doesn’t. It can’t ensure a right to stretch frozen custard with excessive dairy; neither can it ensure the rights of customers to expect a minimum egg quotient to their frozen custard. it can’t protect your right to use ancient footpaths through your neighbour’s fields; and it can’t itself protect your right to hunt down trespassers on the ancient footpaths through your privately owned fields… etc.

      Such questions have been given judicial answers, of course, but the constitution can’t be referenced to understand which way the decisions fell.

      • The Shadow says:

        This is simply backwards. There is no need to enumerate the rights people have; it is only necessary to enumerate the rights (and duties) of the federal government. Anything not enumerated, these amendments say, *does not exist*.

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