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Americans Should Remember the Ninth Amendment

November 20, 2019 in Economics

By James Knight

James Knight

Two hundred and thirty years ago today, on November 20, 1789, New Jersey became the first state to ratify the proposed amendments to the Constitution that we now know as the Bill of Rights. Over the next two years, other states followed suit, culminating in the adoption of the amendments in December of 1791. It almost didn’t happen. Supporters of the Bill of Rights won their opponents over, though, thanks in large part to the inclusion of the Ninth Amendment.


If you’re straining to remember what you learned in civics class about the Ninth Amendment, you’re not alone. Despite the importance of the rights protected by the first ten amendments to the Constitution, surveys over the past few decades have consistently shown that Americans know little about either the Bill of Rights or the Constitution as a whole.

So what’s in the Bill of Rights? For starters, it’s not long — all together, the ten amendments are only 462 words and could be tweeted out in ten tweets. Those 462 words pack a punch, though, explicitly protecting a broad range of rights, from the freedom of speech to the right to a speedy and public trial. The scope of several of the amendments, such as the Second Amendment and its right to keep and bear arms, remains a hotly contested issue today. Others rarely breach the surface of public discourse — the Third Amendment’s prohibition against illegally housing soldiers in the homes of private citizens has been so effective that it has scarcely ever been litigated.



The Ninth Amendment falls into the latter category — it barely registers in the public sphere. If the Third Amendment is the least relevant of the Bill of Rights to Supreme Court jurisprudence, then the Ninth Amendment is the second-least relevant. The Supreme Court’s relegation of the Ninth Amendment to the dusty attic of judicial doctrine is odd when you read it, though: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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