By Tyler Bauer
This is the ninth of many blog posts that will be taking a deeper look at the various amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as proposed amendments to the United States Constitution which failed. The text of each amendment is taken from constitutionus.com and information on failed amendments is taken from www.lexisnexus.com.
The Ninth Amendment
What it Says
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
What it Means
The rights explicitly stated within the Constitution are not the only rights people have. Put another way, just because a certain right isn’t in the Constitution doesn’t mean you don’t have said right.
Why it Matters
This amendment is taken for granted nowadays, but its creation was – and is – very important today. To understand its importance, we have to look at the context in which the Ninth Amendment was created.
During the process of drafting and ratifying the Constitution, there were two main political groups – the Federalists and the Antifederalists. The Federalists – who largely supported the Constitution – wanted a stronger centralized federal government, and the Antifederalists – who largely opposed the Constitution – wanted a weaker system of government in which the States held most of the power. In order to get the Antifederalists to support and ratify the Constitution, the Federalists included the Bill of Rights. However, Antifederalists were worried that the Bill of Rights would be interpreted in a way that only the rights expressed in the Bill of Rights would be recognized. So, the Ninth Amendment was formed to clarify that the Bill of Rights is not an inclusive list of our rights.
Although the Bill of Rights includes many of our most fundamental rights, the Antifederalists were right in wanting to clarify that the Bill of Rights doesn’t contain all of our rights. For example, the Bill of Rights doesn’t explicitly cover your right to pursue a career of your choice, but that right exists nonetheless. Thanks to the Ninth Amendment, the Constitution doesn’t have to explicitly list every right you and I have. (And thank God for that, because that would require a lot more reading.)