Ninth Amendment  (Or, just because I said you couldn’t do it, doesn’t mean that you can, or vice versa.)

Posted by Steve Jackson on Feb 3rd 2024

Ninth Amendment (Or, just because I said you couldn’t do it, doesn’t mean that you can, or vice versa.)

2 minute read

Ninth Amendment: 

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” It can also mean that this right protects “rights” not in the Constitution.

The ratification of the Constitution of the United States was not a done deal as eight out of 13 states insisted that a Bill of Rights be added after the signing. Indeed, George Mason and James Madison, (both from Virginia) debated about there being too much power awarded to the federal government.

George Mason, argued on behalf of the “anti-federalists” that there was too much left to interpretation what may or may not be construed as a right if it was not explicitly entered in the Constitution.

James Madison countered for the federalist side that if you insist upon including a bill of rights the separate states could argue that other rights could not be considered.

Subsequent to the ratification in 1790, the states debated 11 days about the inclusion of 12 rights to be included in the Constitution. Two of those were defeated and 10 remained and approved. Those 10 became the official Bill Of Rights and were signed on the same day, December 15, 1791. Yay!

The Ninth Amendment was the “savings clause”, that rights not specifically listed in the Constitution were not necessarily excluded. In other words, the Bill of Rights was understood to not only protect those rights listed but also others that fell in their shadows, not to be ignored but considered in future court cases.

Wow. That was a fortunate compromise for everyone. The states that wanted a Bill of Rights included, succeeded. The states that felt that a Bill of Rights would weaken the power of the federal government, never-the-less, won approval for the final Constitution with the Bill of Rights attached.

But wait – there’s more.

The vote to ratify the constitution only needed 9 of the 13 states (3/4) to approve. Three states did not sign it until, drum roll please, 1939, the 150th anniversary of the final approval. Those three were Massachusetts, Connecticut and Georgia who had not actually sent their written approvals to Congress. Why? Because the Constitution was already law so why bother. It took them 150 years to join the crowd.


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