Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution Explained

9th Amendment to US Constitution
The 9th amendment is about what rights belong to citizens and what rights below to the Federal Government.

9th Amendment of the Constitution
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

What Is The 9th Amendment?

When the Bill of Rights was added to the United States Constitution in 1791, the Ninth Amendment clause was part of it.

How Can The 9th Amendment Be Summarized?

The Ninth Amendment of the United States Constitution states that the federal government doesn’t own the rights that are not listed in the Constitution, but instead, they belong to citizens. This means the rights that are specified in the Constitution are not the only ones people should be limited to.

The government shouldn’t disparage the other rights of citizens according to the clause. That is the general issue included in the Ninth Amendment.

These rights can consist of the right to plant flowers, the right to paint your toenails, and the right to eat what you want, among many others. All these are rights not denied to people just because they aren’t in the Constitution. 

Why Was The 9th Amendment Added To The Constitution?

There was a great debate on whether people’s rights were being protected before the Constitution was ratified.

The Anti-Federalists are the ones that insisted that the Bill of Rights be included in the Constitution. They feared that the federal government would take all the power and oppress other people. Then James Madison listened and included The Ninth Amendment in the Constitution.

However, an essential portion of the original draft that Madison created was removed by a select committee. It was to prohibit the federal government from expanding its power more using interpretation.

This, in turn, made the whole application of the amendment and the purpose it was supposed to serve irrelevant. The intention was for it to be used as the Constitution’s mode of interpretation.

It was supposed to give people the confidence that federal courts wouldn’t create any new government powers through interpretation.

9th Amendment to US Constitution
9th Amendment to US Constitution

Opposition To The Constitution From Federalists.

The federalists, on the other hand, believed that the Constitution limited the federal government. They argued that individuals’ liberties would possibly turn out to be detrimental if protected rights are enumerated.

The Constitution would also make other liberties lack the protection of their constitutional rights.

The Ninth Amendment was developed to ensure that enumerated rights in the Constitution do not deny other rights that aren’t listed. When it was first passed, it wasn’t clear what the rights of the amendment were.

Alexander Hamilton and 9th Amendment

Interestingly, Alexander Hamilton was against the inclusion of the 9th Amendment in the Bill of Rights. He argued that protecting unnamed rights, implied that the government had the power over these rights if it weren’t for the 9th Amendment.

alexander hamilton 10 dollar
Alexander Hamilton’s portrait on the 10-dollar bill.

What Does The 9th Amendment Mean Today?

The Ninth Amendment wasn’t mentioned frequently until the mid-1960s since the United States Supreme Court didn’t primarily depend on it.

In fact, the Supreme Court was slightly bemused by it as there was a strong disagreement in what it could be referring to.

This happened continuously ever since the Bill of Rights was enacted. This has impacted the Ninth Amendment so much since then. It hasn’t been referenced often as a primary source of liberty. However, it has been very crucial in the broadening of people’s rights to privacy.

What best explains the purpose of the ninth amendment?

Generally, the Supreme Court tries not to introduce a reference to the 9th amendment if possible, as its interpretation is so challenging.

However, this is changing as new technology emerges such as the internet where many aspects may have to be regulated by the 9th amendment.

9th amendment rights
The 9th amendment is about rights and who they belong to.

Why Is The 9th Amendment Important?

Many interpretations have emerged, all trying to interpret the Ninth Amendment of the Constitution and its meaning. Some scholars claim that it is affirmative protection of the rights that aren’t included in the Bill of Rights. Other scholars think that it’s just there to state a platitude. Many people have not paid much attention to the clause at all.

When Was The 9th Amendment Ratified?

The 9th Amendment was ratified on December 15th, 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights which consisted of the first 10 amendments to the US constitution.

Before it was ratified, there was a great discussion in Congress over the suggested text and whether it should be ratified at all. It is sometimes referred to as the Federalists’ Amendment.

Video Explanation of the 9th Amendment of the Constitution:

21 Responses

  1. Can County Governments impose regulations that differ between city and rural property in the same county thus restricting simple things like the right to having a garage?

    1. How is this vacation right? What about thr right for the public to be free of disease? Especially if you were infected then walk into a crowd knowing you are infected, therefore putting all others health in jeopardy? Just curious.

      1. That’s a false dichotomy. Look at how we react to AIDS today – in California it is not illegal to consciously spread HIV. States should regulate as their citizens demand. Feds aren’t in the picture…

    2. No because the Pandemic falls under the Public Health Safety clauses under several Articles in the Constitution.

  2. Is this 9th Amendment being used by pro abortion protesters to say that abortion is a woman’s “constitutional right”? Or is this a valid specific reason they are saying this?

    1. Pro-choice does NOT mean “pro-abortion”. I’m pro-choice but I would never support aborting my child.

      And yes, the Ninth Amendment is a valid, specific reason abortion should remain legal.

      1. Well stated answer.
        In various personal discussions with friends I’ve tried to convey that very simple approach and reasoning (pro-choice / pro-abortion is not the same) but I didn’t have the right words to be persuasive.
        Regardless of why your comment impacted me, I appreciate seeing your clear and simple words, and wanted to tell you that they made a difference to at least one person.

    2. Falls under the right of privacy. Also can be argued it is a Civil Liberty that a person can be the judge of their body under certain limitations (the Justices came up with the Trimester test for the limitations) which has been accepted as an unenumerated right. It doesn’t affect the public and it’s nobody’s business except for the parties involved! The SCOTUS is going to state that Roe V Wade doesn’t meet the test for the 14th Amendment which was used along with the 9th and some other Amendments. They assume nobody knows or understands the 9th as it isn’t referenced that often, so everyone thinks it was only the 14th that was used as the assent for the case.

    3. The ninth ammendment was used as the concurring opinion basis in Roe v Wade. It actually is a stronger basis than the majority opinion which relied on the 14th ammendment. The weakness is that it prohibits only the Federal government, and not state or local regulation.

  3. I think that the reason they don’t like mentioning the 9th Amendment is because they don’t like being prohibited from forcing rules on WE the People.. So they hope we overlook the 9th Amendment…

    1. Yes. Voting is not officially expressed in the Constitution thus is an unenumerated right as documents from the Founders referred that the people are meant to vote. The 9th doesn’t specify that limitations to these unenumerated rights are unconstitutional though. Voting laws are under the jurisdiction of the States, however limitations can and have been found unconstitutional under the US Constitution as that supersedes State laws. From what I have read about the 9th, other Amendments need to be applied along with the 9th as really the Courts don’t want to have to interpret what these unenumerated rights are. Previous SCOTUS cases have included voting, privacy, and Civil Liberties fall under the 9th. Too bad it doesn’t keep Courts from removing parts of the Voting Act. SMH.

  4. The founding fathers were NOT “originalists”. Proof is that they said that a right should NOT be denied by claiming it was not named within. They were trashing their “original” plan, Articles of Confederation, after @decade. So, they were extreme revisionists already.

  5. WHY IS IT THAT DURING ANY PUBLIC FORUM, REPUBLICANS FEEL THE NEED TO SPEW AMENDMENTS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION, WHEN IN FACT THEY, ALONG WITH FORMER PRESIDENT 45, SO OFTEN, TRAMPLED SO MANY AMENDMENTS AND BILL OF RIGHTS?

  6. Where on the constitutional amendments that a sheriff can hire and pay a convicted felon to buy a gun. Caused a serious crime.

  7. Congress should ratified the 9th Amendment to include women and abortions in it, women have rights too. Also it need to include LGBTQ for men and women.

  8. Is it LEGAL for GREENWOOD COUNTY government employee to be FIRED over THEIR private social media which is not THREAT violence and is OPINION of political issues and personal comments. Also was told it was offensive but I was singled out hundred employees to censor?

  9. The 9th amendment should be relied on to prevent the overturn of Roe v Wade. If RvW is overturned, the 9th should be argued in each state that all women have the right to control their own body.

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