“What does it mean,” Schreck asks plaintively,” that the document will not protect us from the violence of men?” It means, among much else, that the Constitution can’t do everything, and more importantly, that it shouldn’t claim to. This is why the Ninth Amendment, Amendment Nine, is so appealing to someone like Schreck. It gives the illusion of comprehensiveness that the document otherwise lacks. There are bad things in the world, and the Constitution should eliminate them: not only violence against women but, she says, climate change too. And more, having done away with the bad things, it should guarantee the good: the right to an abortion, for example, and universal health care. She notes that more than a hundred countries enjoy such “positive-rights” constitutions in the world today, “that actively rectify inequality, include gender protections on page one, provide health care, protect the environment.”
She mentions Germany and South Africa as examples. But again, she glides over complications. The constitution of South Africa promises “adequate housing” for all, even as, by some estimates, nearly one out of five South Africans lives in inadequate housing. And she neglects to mention such bastions of equality and peace as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose constitution promises protection “against sexual violence.” And Zimbabwe, which requires government to “provide for reproductive health care.” And China, of course: Its constitution guarantees women access to its highly censored version of an educational system. I don’t think Schreck would find life more congenial, or less violent, in the Congo than in the United States.