Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Original Meaning of the Ninth Amendment

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
I have quoted elsewhere the following passage from the U.S. Senate's annotated Constitution:
It is clear from its text and from Madison's statement [upon presenting the Bill of Rights to the House of Representatives] that the [Ninth] Amendment states but a rule of construction, making clear that a Bill of Rights might not by implication be taken to increase the powers of the national government in areas not enumerated, and that it does not contain within itself any guarantee of a right or a proscription of an infringement.
Today I received my copy of The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, which includes an article (pp. 366-371) about the Ninth Amendment by Thomas McAffee. According to McAffee,
. . . Madison . . . affirmed that the reason for the Ninth Amendment was not to expand the power of the Court to find new rights, but rather to restrict the ability of the Court to expand the legislative powers of Congress. Madison continued to maintain that that was the central meaning of the Ninth Amendment throughout his life, and his interpretation was seconded by most commentators of the time.
Related posts:

Notes on the State of Liberty in American Law
Law, Liberty, and Abortion (10/31/05)
Don't Just Take My Word for It (11/07/05)