9th Amendment

The 9th Amendment of the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights, and provides a blanket cover for all of the rights that should be afforded to the people, which may not be specifically listed in the U.S. Constitution. In simple terms, United States citizens have certain rights that cannot be violated, even if they are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. To explore this concept, consider the 9th Amendment definition.

Definition of 9th Amendment


  1. An amendment that provides people with rights not specifically mentioned in the United States Constitution.


Proposed in 1789; ratified on December 15, 1791

What is the 9th Amendment

The 9th Amendment was added to the United States Constitution on September 5, 1789. The amendment, part of the Bill of Rights, states that the American people have individual rights that may not be listed in the Constitution, and that these rights cannot be violated. This amendment was added to the Constitution to make clear that not all personal rights of the people had been specified in the Constitution, as it was impossible to outline them all.

History of the 9th Amendment

The Constitution went to the states for ratification on September 17, 1787. The Anti-Federalists believed that a Bill of Rights should be added to the Constitution, specifically making it clear that American citizens have certain inalienable rights that cannot be restricted by the federal government. Federalists opposed this, fearing that, by enumerating specific rights, those not included would fall under the governance of the government, which may serve to strengthen governmental power.

James Madison addressed this issue with this statement:

“It has been objected also against a Bill of Rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration; and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the General Government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that it may be guarded against. I have attempted it, as gentlemen may see by turning to the last clause of the fourth resolution.”

Madison proposed this draft amendment to the Constitution:

“The exceptions here or elsewhere in the constitution, made in favor of particular rights, shall not be so construed as to diminish the just importance of other rights retained by the people; or as to enlarge the powers delegated by the constitution; but either as actual limitations of such powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution.”

In 1789, 19 draft Amendments were presented to the House of Representatives. The First through Eighth Amendments address the manner in which the government may exercise its powers as granted by the Constitution. The final draft of the Ninth Amendment, which read:

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

was ratified by three-fourths of the states, and became part of the Constitution on December 15, 1791.

9th Amendment Example Case

In 1965, the Supreme Court heard the case of Griswold vs. Connecticut. This case was brought about when Estelle Griswold, the executive director of Planned Parenthood in Connecticut, and Dr. Charles Buxton, founded a clinic in the town of New Haven to provide services to women who had no access to a gynecologist, or method for planning the growth of their families. After opening the clinic, the parties were arrested on charges of offering services aimed at preventing conception, in violation of a state law prohibiting the use of “any drug, medicinal article, or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception.” They were fined for the crime.

The plaintiffs appealed the conviction, but it was upheld in both the appellate court and the Connecticut Supreme Court. Griswold claimed that the state law that banned the use of contraceptives violated the 14th Amendment, which reads:

“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…nor deny any person the equal protection of the laws.”

The case went to the United States Supreme Court in 1965. In a 7-2 vote, the Court ruled that the state’s law was indeed unconstitutional. In the Court’s written decision, Justice William O. Douglas recognized that, although the right to privacy is not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights, it is seen as a right to protection from governmental intrusion. The Court’s interpretation of this 9th Amendment issue of individual rights not specified by the Constitution went on to govern other important cases involving personal intimate relationships, and the right to privacy.

Related Legal Terms and Issues

  • Bill of Rights – The first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States. These amendments cover the fundamental rights afforded to all people, such as freedom of speech and the right to assemble.
  • Enumerated – Mention something one by one if counting.
  • Fourteenth Amendment – The amendment that provides people with equal protection under both state and federal laws.
  • Fundamental Rights – Rights recognized by the courts that offer people protection from the government.
  • PlaintiffA person who brings a legal action against another person or entity, such as in a civil lawsuit, or criminal proceedings.
  • Unenumerated Rights – Rights that are implied, but are not written or specified.

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