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Explained: The Obscure Ninth Amendment

Posted by Justin on

Anyone could be forgiven for thinking our Ninth Amendment is pretty indefinite and vague in its definition.

Even the most dedicated patriots who consider themselves Constitution buffs could be hard pressed trying to name all the protections this Amendment offers us.

Why? Because the very fact that our Ninth Amendment maintains such a hazy definition is actually the true essence of the rights it protects.

It still stands as one of the most important parts of the Constitution in the way it protects the freedom of American citizens: This catchall liberty-defender even made it into the Bill of Rights.

The fact of the matter is, you're probably exercising your right to the Ninth every single day, and flexing fundamental loopholes without even knowing it.

To get the lowdown on the basic rights we enjoy as American citizens thanks to the Ninth Amendment, let's break down its meaning in detail so you know where you stand: 


The Text of the Ninth Amendment

The text of the Ninth Amendment is admittedly sparse. But this is for good reason, as we’ll soon see. The text in the amendment reads: 

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


Put in simpler terms, the Ninth Amendment basically means:

The rights listed in the Constitution are not meant to limit rights that are not listed in the Constitution.  

For example, the Constitution says that the American people have the right to free speech.

Nowadays, this right to free speech still actually applies everywhere, not just in the spoken word as it was back in the day.

Just because the Constitution doesn’t explicitly say that we have the right to free speech over the Internet, it doesn’t mean we have automatically forsaken that right.

The Ninth Amendment allows for this wiggle room for our basic rights, forming a commonsense approach to the foundations set in stone in the original documents. 

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Excellent Foresight from the Founding Fathers

The Founding Fathers intentionally included the Ninth Amendment in the Constitution since they knew they could not realistically foresee or write about every fundamental right.

They also recognized that only listing some fundamental rights would open up the possibility for various politicians to change the meaning of the Constitution in the future. 

Their solution was the Ninth Amendment.

It acts as a kind of covering amendment that protects all American rights for the foreseeable future, even if they aren’t explicitly outlined in the Constitution.

Defining the Grey Areas in Modern Times

The Ninth Amendment covers all our rights the Founding Fathers didn't originally cover in the Constitution, allowing us to enjoy them even if they aren't explicitly written down.

As a result, the Supreme Court often has to determine what constitutes a fundamental right if it isn’t listed in the Constitution itself. 

One great example of the Ninth Amendment in action is our right to travel.

While the Constitution does not grant any American citizen the right to travel, it seems common sense that we have the right to nonetheless. That’s what makes it fundamental. 

More important is the right to vote. Did you know that the Constitution itself doesn’t say that people have the right to vote?

Instead, this right is derived from other text within the Constitution, and any logical court would rule that the American people have the right to vote, even though the Constitution doesn’t outline it individually.

All in all, the Ninth Amendment is one of the most important in the entire Constitution even if it is somewhat obscure.

But it’s obscurity is part of its strength; it’s impossible to overturn since it’s inherently vague. 

Fortunately, the Founding Fathers were wise enough to know that they didn’t know everything.

We can only hope that our future leaders have the same foresight and humility when it comes to drafting future legislation and Constitutional Amendments. 


Thank you for reading, stay strong patriots. 

Justin | FamTeeWorld
Maine, USA

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