Letters to the Editor: Hey originalists, the Constitution solves your ‘deeply rooted’ rights quandary

An abortion rights activist puts a sign on a barrier surrounding the Supreme Court
An abortion rights activist puts a sign on a barrier surrounding the Supreme Court in Washington on May 14.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Nicholas Goldberg’s column on the Supreme Court’s next move after abortion speaks to an important issue — what happens next to rights that are not written into the Constitution?

Goldberg does not raise the issue of the 9th Amendment, nor does the draft decision overturning Roe vs. Wade. Justice Samuel Alito states the basis for our rights are written in the Constitution, or if not enumerated, must be “deeply rooted in our nation’s history and traditions.” This reading comes from a 1997 case.

The 9th Amendment states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Ratified in 1791, surely this must supersede a 1997 case.


Our history and traditions include slavery, denial of most rights for women and “separate but equal.” Rights were essentially limited to white men who owned property. We have advanced considerably since then.

The 9th Amendment seems to settle the issue. Strange that judicial “originalists” have ignored this.

Catherine Burke, San Gabriel

The writer is an associate professor emerita at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.


To the editor: Harry Litman, who says he clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 1980s, describes the ugly truth of the Supreme Court, a dying star, flaring and collapsing in on itself.

Forget Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.‘s trampling of clerks’ privacy in the abortion leak investigation. Litman correctly states the court is currently populated by cruel bullies placed there by a president against whom the majority of Americans voted.

Simply, it has degenerated into a dysfunctional additional political branch, like a weak, crippled third arm. Litman lays it out and has my patriotic appreciation.

There is a solution. These are desperate times that require strength and courage. Impeachment proceedings should begin against Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh. Let their statements under oath during confirmation be closely examined for perjury. Thomas must answer what he knows about his wife’s obvious effort to overturn the 2020 election.

Good luck, Chief Justice Roberts. You’re in way over your head, so you’ll need it.

Mark Diniakos, Thousand Oaks


To the editor: The bigger problem than the abortion leak investigation, according to Litman, is that the Supreme Court “has become a very public train wreck.” He blames former President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for the “installation of a supermajority of justices eager to take a sledgehammer to many of the foundations of American constitutional law.”

Sounds like sour grapes to me.

It’s easy if you don’t like the direction of the court to claim that it is now illegitimate and blame Trump. I’m just happy that Litman has not joined others in trying to pack the court.

John Hammerel, Santa Barbara