The purpose of this series of articles is to describe and interpret the 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights, which were adopted in 1789 and which distinguish the United States Constitution from those of other countries. Both sides of the arguments for or against a particular amendment will be given, leaving the reader free to make their own interpretation.

Ninth Amendment
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

The Ninth Amendment was adopted to secure certain common law rights of the people against invasion by the federal government.

The area of “right to privacy” is one that has often been litigated under the Ninth Amendment.

Although not cited as much as other amendments in the Bill of Rights, it has had some applicability.

Perhaps the area in which the Ninth Amendment has had the biggest long-range impact is the sale of electrical power to local municipalities by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1939. Said actions in the interest of national defense, navigation and flood control did not violate states’ rights where involved states authorized purchase of electric power by municipalities. The fact that no state asserted that its rights were violated was an important factor.

The requirement that motorcyclists wear helmets, the growing of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the regulation of gay bathhouses and compulsory school attendance laws are a few examples of attempted use of the Ninth Amendment.

Normally, these cases rise or fall on the legal principal that the Ninth Amendment is not violated as an invasion of privacy because the regulated right is one exercised in private where it cannot affect the public.

For more information on the topics discussed, visit the firm’s website at www.summersandwyatt.com or call 423-265-2385. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.

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