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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Majority Rules, When It Shouldn't

We are on an international trip in a closed compartment with poor ventilation. Some decide they want to smoke; others don’t. So a vote is taken and those who do want to smoke outnumber those who don’t. In this instance majority rule should not prevail even though there is no state jurisdiction to appeal to. The health and safety of the minority must somehow prevail in importance. In this instance one must appeal to natural law. The majority has no right to harm a minority, and this is so by natural law. Of course in our situation without a state jurisdiction there is no one to enforce the law. But in situations where there are states, the duty clearly resides in the state of jurisdiction. Controversy will arise where the comfort and desires of the majority are posed against the needs and safety of the minority. Comfort and desires must not prevail. What is politically correct must not prevail. In the United States the Bill of Rights is often appealed to. Perhaps in this case the 9th Amendment would apply. “Rights retained by the people” would seemingly include the right for health and safety not to be needlessly jeopardized. “In 2000, Harvard historian Bernard Bailyn gave a speech at the White House on the subject of the Ninth Amendment. He said that the Ninth Amendment refers to ‘a universe of rights, possessed by the people — latent rights, still to be evoked and enacted into law....a reservoir of other, unenumerated rights that the people retain, which in time may be enacted into law.’” (

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