Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Four out of, er, four, law professors agree!

Videographer Grant Crowell Youtubed a couple of interviews (top two vids listed, less than 15 minutes) in which he asks law professors (including the University of Colorado's Robert Nagle) about Ward Churchill's old argument that the Ninth Amendment of the Constitution overrides Columbus Day celebrants' First Amendment right to free speech--in Denver, as in some other U.S. cities, expressed with an annual parade celebrating Columbus' arrival in the New World. Here's Chutch (also posted by Crowell, though the quote below is from a Counterpunch transcript), way back on February 8, 2005, during his first speech at CU after the little Eichmanns story broke. A question from the audience:
[Do] you agree that the First Amendment rights for the people marching in the Columbus Day parade should be taken away, because that is their freedom of expression as well, and I'm one of those people.

Ward Churchill: Let me answer the man. No, I don't believe you have a First Amendment right because that bounces off against my Ninth Amendment right. You know what my Ninth Amendment rights are? Do you know what the Ninth Amendment says?

Question #4: No, sir.
"No, sir?" Must have been Ben Whitmer.
Ward Churchill: Yeah. Do we have a law professor in here? I think this is a lesson for law school, because I addressed another university auditorium with about this many people in it last week, and I posed the same question to the whole group. Professors, students, townspeople and all, not a soul, including law professors, could tell me what the damn Ninth Amendment said. [laughter] S'pose there might be a reason for that?

Question #4: Sir, sir, sir does that negate the First Amendment?

Ward Churchill: No, no, wait a minute; let's get an answer to it.

Audience Member: Basically it says that whatever rights were not given to federal government are given to the states.

Ward Churchill: Actually, wrong, beep. [laughter] What it says, in very close paraphrase, is that all rights not otherwise enumerated herein that are inherent in people are retained by them, OK? . . . That goes to human rights, particularly the articulation of international human rights that take the form of ratified treaties. Under Article Six of the Constitution of the United States, those are the supreme law of the land, and among them, are fundamental human dignity, OK? And celebration of the conditions that I was describing as pertaining to native people as an outcome of the process initiated by Christopher Columbus [i.e., "genocide"], celebrating that guy in any respect at all is a celebration of those conditions. That's a denial of fundamental human dignity, that's a denial of my Ninth Amendment rights and you don't have a right to do that, and you know exactly what you're doing. [applause].
Crowell's interviewees are highly circumspect, but in their various polite ways every one of them calls bullshit on Churchill's interpretation.

(via Pirate Ballerina, who after a rough time seems to have finally dug out of the snow left by what was basically a two-week-long blizzard in central Colorado.)

No comments: