The First Freedoms
The Privacy Amendments
The 5th Amendment
The 6th Amendment
Civil Trials
The Interpretive Rules

9th Amendment

The 9th Amendment Addresses Federalist Concerns Over the Bill of Rights

Proper Interpretation of the Bill of Rights

If the Federalists’ arguments were valid—that an enumeration of rights might have the tendency to undermine (by implication) the Constitution’s enumeration of powers—then some authoritative statement of proper interpretation would be necessary to fix that problem.

When James Madison was exploring the subject in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, he wrote: “My own opinion has always been in favor of a bill of rights, provided it be so framed as not to imply powers not meant to be included in the enumeration.” And when Madison proposed his amendments in the First Congress, he acknowledged the fears that some had harbored about adding a bill of rights—“that those rights which were not singled out” would be insecure by implication. This fear—one that Madison himself had expressed in the Virginia Convention—was, he said, “one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard urged against the admission of a bill of rights into this system.” But he went on to say that one of his proposed amendments—what would become the 9th Amendment—could prevent that misinterpretation of the Bill of Rights.