Democracy Aims of the Ninth Amendment
“We the People of the United States… do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Within those opening words, the framers of the U.S.
Constitution made clear their intentions for democracy in America and their disregard for previous despotic institutions. No longer viewing the individual”s highest duty to be obedience to the state, our founding fathers displayed a firm commitment to bolstering the significance and dignity of the individual. This new found faith in the ability of the populace to govern itself is known as democracy.
Democracy itself is an ideal that was developed by the ancient Greeks around 500 B. C. Inherent in all of the freedoms of democracy are certain “inalienable rights” that are guaranteed to every citizen who resides under that democracy. Following the Constitutional Convention, Federalists, who supported the ratification of the Constitution, obtained the support by promising that an enumeration of the rights of all citizens that would be added as an amendment to the Constitution after it had been ratified, to Anti-Federalists who opposed ratification due to the lack of enumerated rights.
In order to outline and expound upon those rights, the Constitution was amended almost immediately following its ratification in 1788. The Bill of Rights, as the first ten amendments have come to be known, was put into effect on the fifteenth day of December, 1791, and is a formal declaration given by the government to define the fundamental liberties of its citizens and thus limit its own power. The first eight amendments contain the essential rights of every citizen, as well as certain procedural precautions instituted to insure the protection of those rights.
The enth amendment guarantees the limitation of federal control to those and only those powers granted it in the Constitution. Inherent in the ninth amendment is the vitality of democracy in the United States. The ninth amendment reads: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. ” Amendment nine, while protecting citizens from the infringement of the government on the unenumerated rights of the individual using rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, also levels any implied hierarchy of rights making no single right of any greater importance than another.
The preservation of democracy in America is vitally dependent upon the ninth amendment as illustrated by its inherent ideologies that made it an amendment, its modern judicial implications in relation to the topics of the day, as well as its ability to reinforce those attributes that keep a democracy operating. Once the Constitution had been put into effect and representatives had been sent to Congress, it was time for the amendments that had been promised, to be sent before Congress. The leader in the proposition of amendments to the new Congress was James
Madison, the “Father of the Constitution. ” Madison”s chief intention in proposing his amendments to the Constitution was to prevent “… the abridgment of the freedom of the people by [the] gradual and silent encroachments of those in power. ” Madison originally proposed fifteen amendments that were to enumerate all of the inalienable rights of United States citizens. Of those fifteen, twelve were accepted by Congress to be sent to the states for approval under the process outlined in the Fifth Article of the Constitution.
What would become the ninth amendment was seen even then as innocuous, but Madison was able to support its importance asking, “If an enumeration be made of all our rights, will it not be implied that everything omitted is given to the general government? ” Democracy, as a free-state, relies inevitably on the protection of the freedoms of the individual; because all of the freedoms that an individual has a right to cannot simply be listed, it is vitally important that those rights which are not spelled out in the body of law that protects the individual continue to be protected from usurpation by the government.
Through inference this amendment implies in its own wording that the rights that are listed in the Bill of Rights are so important that they needed to be spelled out, but there are other natural rights belonging to United States citizens that were equally important, but too numerous to mention. These “natural rights” include the right to choose your own mate, the right to reproductive choice, the right to determine the manner of your child”s education, and even covers rights to personal privacy. Certainly no man would argue the personal, as well as democratic significance of these rights.
Thus, Madison, foreseeing the possibilities of the rise of the federal government to the already massive position of power that it now occupies kept it from denying Americans all of those rights that even they take for granted, because they cannot be found specifically enumerated in The judicial implications behind the ninth amendment are innumerable, mainly due to the fact that on a regular basis the government does its best to work its way into the private lives of individuals and instruct them on how to better their conduct in the ace of social morality. One pressing issue facing the people of the United States today is that of doctor-assisted suicide. To date, it has been ruled that suicide is in essence self-murder and accordingly, if murder is illegal so must all forms of it be illegal as well, self and otherwise.
However, in light of the unenumerated rights guaranteed to citizens by the ninth amendment, this “right to die” inherently belongs to the individual as it does ot infringe upon the rights of others. Another modern political debate is that of the legality of homosexuality. Seeing as how, regardless of their sexual orientation, homosexuals are citizens of the United States of America, they also have the right to decide for themselves the person with whom they engage in sexual relations. Sexuality is, therefore, one more of the unenumerated rights bestowed upon the people under the “innocuous” amendment.
Wisely effected for this use, the ninth amendment was cited in the case of Roe v.Wade in the determination of a woman”s right to have an abortion. This right, while not enumerated in the Constitution is still a right of the people under the ninth amendment. The ninth amendment, while famously misunderstood and misinterpreted by Judge Robert Bork in his 1987 confirmation hearing, has only recently been utilized as a tool in the fight for the preservation of the individual citizen”s democratic rights.
Bork demonstrated his ineptitude and his inability to be a Supreme Court Justice by stating that he could not logically view the ninth amendment from the mindset of the Constitution”s framers. The ability of a Supreme Court Justice to trust his own insinuations into the minds of our founding fathers is what allows them to make a clear, responsible and accurate assertion about the ramifications of the wording of the Constitution. Unenumerated rights are, by definition, rights that are not specifically listed and are, therefore, more or less unknown.
If it was possible to enumerate all of the rights that are delegated to the people under the ninth amendment then it would have been done and the innocuity innate in its creation would be forever erased. As those rights remain constantly emerging and on the verge of emerging the Supreme Court will have to continue to expand its interpretation and better use the ninth amendment for the protection of the intrinsic rights of the American citizen. Democracy itself is reliant upon several things to keep it working: citizen participation, voluntary action and education.
The ninth amendment strengthens the wide-spread participation of the citizenry by entrusting them with rights that are God-given, rights that are so innately human that they need not be itemized in the body of law that was created to itemize the inborn rights of all citizens. Any and every individual has the right to run for public office. Each individual is also capable of supporting which ever political party he feels best represents his own personal opinions. He also retains the right to keep those personal opinions to himself if he so chooses.
Another characteristic of democracy is its faith and dependence upon education. Although widespread participation is a significantly substantial aspect of democracy, it alone does not ensure the proper maintenance of good government. An active populace is nothing if it is not an educated populace. Education is not an institution that can be left to sort itself out, either. Whether an individual should choose to attend public or private schools, continue to a college or university, or perhaps be taught directly by his parents at home is a right that remains his under the ninth amendment.
Without the freedoms and rights that are built-into the educational systems of America by the ninth amendment, the ability of the nation to take action, keep informed, vote intelligently and produce leaders worthy of public trust and responsibility would be drastically diminished. The lack of force inbred in all democracies requires a distinct amount of voluntary action to replace it. The right of the citizen to participate or not to participate in the everyday workings of the democracy in which he lives is always his.
The ninth amendment can in that manner work against itself, but thanks to the safeguard of education it can be assumed a majority of the individuals inhabiting a democracy are there of their own free will and there because they wish to cooperate with and for the established system and not against it. The successful operation of American democracy, as well as that of any other democracy, is dependent upon the rights granted to the people of the United States by the ninth amendment.
In The Federalist, “Number 47,” James Madison said that, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. ” Madison proposed the Bill of Rights in order to avoid allowances for the federal government to secure a position of tyranny as well as to promote the permanent establishment of democracy.
Amendment nine of the Bill of Rights is the amendment that best exemplifies the preservation of that new state of democracy in America by withholding from the national government all those rights that went unenumerated in the Bill of Rights, but which continue to be retained by the people. The right to personal privacy, the right to a choice of educational institutions, the right to receive an abortion, the right to choose your own sexual orientation, the right to follow the political party of your choosing and even the right to die are all bestowed upon the citizenry by the ninth amendment.
Democracy, as an institution of sentiment, law and government, could not survive without the guarantee of the ninth amendment that the people shall retain those rights which were given them with birth and which will neither be denied nor disparaged. The increasing clarity of the ninth amendment will continue to provide boundless possibilities for the people of the United States to not only continue in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but also to inhibit federal interference with that goal.