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Ninth Amendment: Rights Retained by People

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  • 0:06 9th Amendment of the…
  • 2:28 Griswold V. Connecticut (1965)
  • 3:45 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

The purpose of the Ninth Amendment is to protect the citizens' rights that aren't necessarily mentioned elsewhere in the Constitution, like the right to privacy or the right to marry. It also prevents the violation of those rights by the government.

Ninth Amendment of the Constitution

As a starting point, the Constitution of the United States is made up of 27 amendments that set forth the rights of citizens and the role of government. Of that, the first 10 amendments make up the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights sets forth the rights of every citizen of the United States and the limitations on government to violate those rights. For example, the Second Amendment states that all citizens have a right to bear arms or own guns. Government cannot set limitations on this right if the gun was purchased legally, the owner applied and was extended a license and the gun is stored and/or carried according to the laws of the state.

Let's look at the Bill of Rights in a nutshell:

  • First Amendment - Freedom of speech, religion and press
  • Second Amendment - Right to bear arms for lawful purposes
  • Third Amendment - Prohibits government from forcing citizens to house soldiers during peaceful times
  • Fourth Amendment - Protection against unwanted search and seizure
  • Fifth Amendment - Protection against double jeopardy, self-incrimination and abuse by courts
  • Sixth Amendment - Right to a fair and impartial jury and right to an attorney
  • Seventh Amendment - Right to a trial by jury in civil cases
  • Eighth Amendment - Protection against cruel and unusual punishment and unreasonable bail
  • Ninth Amendment - Right to retain rights that are not enumerated in the Constitution
  • Tenth Amendment - Provides states with individual power where federal government power does not exist

If we take a closer look at the Bill of Rights, it becomes obvious that the first eight amendments are specific. Whether it is a right to bear arms or a right to a fair trial, the language is specific.

The Ninth Amendment of the Constitution differs from other rights in that it does not specifically express rights of the people. Rather, it guarantees that rights that are not specifically written in the Constitution may be retained by the people, like the right to marry or the right to choose one's own career. Think of the Ninth Amendment as a security blanket that provides citizens rights not specifically listed elsewhere and that cannot be violated by the government. Perhaps a case analysis will help.

Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)

In a law that dated back to 1879, the state of Connecticut criminalized the use of contraceptives to avoid pregnancy amongst married women. In fact, it was considered a criminal act if a doctor even suggested that a married woman use a medical treatment to avoid conception.

Sometime around 1965, Estelle Griswold, director of Planned Parenthood, along with Dr. Buxton, who also worked for Planned Parenthood, were arrested and convicted for providing counseling and contraceptives to a married woman. Both were fined for the offense.

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