Insomnia Log

This is what keeps me awake at night???

Who needs sleep? (well you’re never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep? (tell me what’s that for)
Who needs sleep? (be happy with what you’re getting,
There’s a guy who’s been awake since the second world war)

-- words and music by Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States

Everything you need to know about me can be found in my posts

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Revolution Number IX

When I'm at parties, people often ask me what my favorite Constitutional Amendment is. Free speech perhaps, or maybe the right to bear arms? Or maybe it's that whole protection from unreasonable search and seizure thing?

Well, I always tell my cocktail acquaintances that my fav is without a doubt Number Nine. And the reaction is always the same. What, is that the one that gave women the right to vote?

It turns out that the Ninth Amendment is "none of the above". That's right, it is the amendment that protects all the rights that aren't covered anywhere else.

Back when the Constitution was being written, there were some folks who argued against having a Bill of Rights at all. They were concerned that if you listed a specific set of rights the government would just assume the right to everything not on the list. So James Madison came up with this clever idea, which was enshrined near the bottom of the list:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
In other words, just because something wasn't explicitly listed as a right it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. For example, the right to privacy is not listed explicitly anywhere in the Constitution, although it is certainly hinted at in the First, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments. The Supreme Court ruled that the right to privacy is indeed protected.

So, thanks to James Madison and the other Federalists for putting an escape clause in there to protect the rights that are "basic and fundamental and so deep–rooted in our society" that they didn't think they would need to spell them out.



Blogger Gordon said...

That's an excellent answer, and in the context of the document, a nice counterpoint to #10. Remember Reagan's emphasis on the 10th, how it was so revolutionary? Seems like someone needs to have a 9th amendment revival.

Mon Nov 19, 01:54:00 PM  

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