• Exploring American History

9th Amendment offers Americans additional rights

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

As the framers worked to compose the Constitution, differing thoughts were expressed by the Federalists and Anti-Federalists regarding a bill of rights. The Anti-Federalist strongly believed it was absolutely necessary for a bill of rights to be added to the document. On the other hand, Federalists such as James Wilson stated the addition of such a list would be detrimental, due to the fact if a list was added, something would invariably be left off, thereby denying the people any rights not mentioned.

In order to quell the demands of the Anti-Federalists, James Madison agreed to include the Bill of Rights as part of the Constitution once the document was ratified by the states. The 9th Amendment was added in order to protect any rights for the people not specifically mentioned within the text.

The framers confined the government’s authority to the text of the Constitution. If a right or authority was not specifically spelled out in the document’s text as belonging to the government, it automatically belonged to the people. The federal court has an obligation to protect a citizen's 'unenumerated' rights equally as much as it does in guarding those which are spelled out in the first 10 amendments. The 9th Amendment serves as a barrier to protect the people from governmental overreach.

Many have considered the 9th Amendment to be merely a clause that has remained dormant from the time the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791. This is wrong. Few people today recognize the manner in which the 9th Amendment has influenced significant constitutionally-based debates in American history; among them the struggle regarding slavery and FDR's New Deal.

In 1965, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Griswold v Connecticut that the 9th Amendment protects the right to privacy within marriage. The Court later cited this same amendment during Roe v. Wade.

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