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Tuesday: Debating Our Rights with Meg Mott at Putney Library: The 9th Amendment

The Debating Our Rights series continues at the Putney Public Library on July 31st at 7 PM, with the 9th Amendment taking center stage. Meg Mott, professor of politics at Marlboro College, will lead a discussion on this most squishy of the Amendments. Unlike the first eight Amendments, each of which lays out specific protections, the Ninth protects rights that haven’t been specified. What exactly are those rights? How do we decide what is a fundamental right?
“When it comes to constitutional issues, citizens generally leave the Big Questions to the experts on the bench,” explains Mott. “The Ninth Amendment throws the Biggest Question back to the people. There are no well-worn judicial decisions, no established parameters of the debate. That’s liberating and terrifying. When rights don’t get adjudicated, it’s not quite clear what they are. Part of our work at the July discussion will be to understand the history of these human rights and what we need of them now.”
The Debating Our Rights series was the brainchild of librarian Emily Zervas and library trustee Janice Baldwin. Concerned about the misinformation in American political discourse, Zervas and Baldwin wanted to host discussions organized around the shared values of the Constitution. When they approached Mott, she suggested focusing on the robust disagreements of the Supreme Court so that audience members could weigh in on the debate.
Each of the Amendments have been considered and debated, from free speech to gun rights to the importance of juries in establishing a civic education. “The public has been incredibly engaged in all of these discussions,” says Zervas. “Meg’s presentations and facilitation helps foster an understanding of the basis of our democracy and our current responsibilities as citizens.”
Debating Our Rights takes place on the last Tuesday of the Month at 7PM at the Putney Public Library. On August 28, the focus will be on the Tenth Amendment, the “States’ Rights Amendment.” Debating our Rights is free and open to the public.
Putney Public Library is located at 55 Main St in Putney, VT. This event is free and open to the public.