THE Global Justice Movement Website

THE Global Justice Movement Website
This is the "Global Justice Movement" (dot org) we refer to in the title of this blog.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Personhood and the Ontology of Personalism, Part V

The original intent of the framers of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States was to extend the status of "person" to human beings who had, as a necessary precondition of involuntary servitude, been denied personality or personhood. Before the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and the 13th Amendment of the Constitution (1865), black slaves had not been construed as "persons," but as "property," that is, "things." They could thus be owned, and disposed of as their owners desired, just as the traditional rights of private property declared.

To correct this serious deficiency, over which a war had just been fought that cost the lives of an estimated 618,000 soldiers on both sides the framers of the 14th Amendment went to great lengths to try and ensure that no human being of whatever stage of physical or social development or previous condition of servitude could ever again be redefined as a "non-person" and thereby removed from the full and equal protection of the law.

The key word in the 14th Amendment is "person," just as the Supreme Court of the United States acknowledged in its opinion in Roe v. Wade. From there, however, the argument degenerates. If, as the Supreme Court argued, the original intent of the framers of the 14th Amendment omits unborn human beings from the category of "person," then equal protection of life, liberty, and property does not apply to human fetuses. This reasoning is flawed on three counts.

One (as we noted in the previous posting), the Court's reasoning makes personality — personhood — contingent upon something other than mere existence as a human being at any stage of development or condition of life. This abrogates the natural law justification for the existence of the United States as set forth in the Declaration of Independence, and undermines the authority of the Supreme Court itself.

Two, the "original intent" argument does not hold up. The framers of the 14th Amendment clearly sought to extend equal protection of the law to human beings who had previously been denied the status of person. In an astounding example of legal sophistry and mental gymnastics, the Supreme Court used the 14th Amendment in Roe v. Wade to deny the status of person to unborn human beings and restrict equal protection under the law only to those whom the Court deemed worthy of such protection.

Three, the Supreme Court claimed because the framers of the 14th Amendment did not specifically mention the fetus, and clearly did not have the fetus in mind (true — why should they?), the fetus is therefore not a person as that term is used in the Constitution. This argument ignores the 9th and 10th Amendments.

The 9th Amendment is that, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The 10th Amendment is that, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Why the 9th and 10th Amendments are applicable in this case will be covered in the next posting in this series.