Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution
Amendment IX (the Ninth Amendment) of the United States Constitution is the ninth of ten amendemnts to the Constitution also collectively known as the Bill of Rights. The Ninth Amendment along with the rest of the Bill of Rights, was proposed by Congress in 1789, to be ratified by the requisite number of states in 1791. As with the remaining Amendments of the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment was passed in order to answer protestations that the newly created Constitution did not include sufficient guarantees of civil liberties.
The Ninth Amendment, particularly when taken in conjunction with The Tenth Amendment, emphasizes that the Bill of Rights is not a grant of rights from the government to the people, but a reminder that it merely enumerates some of the most important powers not granted to the government.
The text of the 9th Amendment reads as follows:
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The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution does not specifically identify any individual rights like the eight amendments that precede it, rather the Ninth Amendment sets forth a rule of construction that is to guide one when interpreting the Constitution. It makes the drafter's intent clear that the enumeration of certain rights in the body of the Constitution or in the Amendments shall not be considered to be exhaustive or all inclusive, but rather illustrative. Moreover, when read in conjunction with the Tenth Amendment the principal of individual sovereignty and a limited government of delegated powers is firmly established. Therefore the Ninth Amendment, when interpreted in accordance with the Tenth Amendment, should be read as establishing a rule of construction that demonstrates that the Constitution, as a whole, should be construed to mean that the people retain all powers (i.e. right or authority) not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor delegated to their respective State governments by the several State Constitutions.
The Constitution and Bill of Rights represent a more thorough, but (according to the Ninth Amendment) not an exhaustive exploration of the unalienable rights that belong to all people. Other rights that have been recognized include, the right to privacy, the right to travel, the right of self-defense, the right to pursue one's occupation of choice, the right to marry, and the right to bear children. Surely many other rights exist as well, but most of our rights exist not in the form of positive declarations of such rights, but rather as implied rights and/or powers that are retained by people when not delegated. This concept, as well, derives from the Declaration of Independence where our forefathers made it clear that government derives all of its just authority from the consent (i.e. the act of granting one's permission or approval to another by the exercise of one's free will) of the people.
For example, the Constitution does not enumerate the right to eat one's food, but the Constitution does not grant to the government the power to deny people that right. The Ninth Amendment recognizes that such natural rights are retained by the people and cannot be abridged by the government.
Since footnote four, the proper application of the Ninth Amendment has been a contentious issue. Robert Bork famously likened it to an inkblot, saying judges were not permitted to make up what was under the inkblot. However, Randy Barnett has argued that the Ninth Amendment requires what he calls a presumption of liberty.
- United States Constitution
- Bill of Rights
- Footnote four
- Judicial Branch