The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The Ninth Amendment had been mentioned infrequently in decisions of the Supreme Court1 until it became the subject of some exegesis by several of the Justices in Griswold v. Connecticut.2 The Court in that case voided a statute prohibiting use of contraceptives as an infringement of the right of marital privacy. Justice Douglas, writing for the Court, asserted that the
specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance.3 Thus, although privacy is not mentioned in the Constitution, it is one of the values served and protected by the First Amendment through its protection of associational rights, and by the Third, the Fourth, and the Fifth Amendments as well. The Justice recurred to the text of the Ninth Amendment, apparently to support the thought that these penumbral rights are protected by one Amendment or a complex of Amendments despite the absence of a specific reference. Justice Goldberg, concurring, devoted several pages to the Amendment.
The language and history of the Ninth Amendment reveal that the Framers of the Constitution believed that there are additional fundamental rights, protected from governmental infringement, which exist alongside those fundamental rights specifically mentioned in the first eight constitutional amendments. . . . To hold that a right so basic and fundamental and so deep-rooted in our society as the right of privacy in marriage may be infringed because that right is not guaranteed in so many words by the first eight amendments to the Constitution is to ignore the Ninth Amendment and to give it no effect whatsoever. Moreover, a judicial construction that this fundamental right is not protected by the Constitution because it is not mentioned in explicit terms by one of the first eight amendments or elsewhere in the Constitution would violate the Ninth Amendment. . . . Nor do I mean to state that the Ninth Amendment constitutes an independent source of right protected from infringement by either the States or the Federal Government. Rather, the Ninth Amendment shows a belief of the Constitution’s authors that fundamental rights exist that are not expressly enumerated in the first eight amendments and an intent that the list of rights included there not be deemed exhaustive.4
Therefore, although neither Douglas’ nor Goldberg’s opinion sought to make the Ninth Amendment a substantive source of constitutional guarantees, both read it as indicating a function of the courts to interpose a veto over legislative and executive efforts to abridge other fundamental rights. Both opinions seemed to concur that the fundamental right claimed and upheld was derivative of several express rights and, in this case, really, the Ninth Amendment added almost nothing to the argument. But, if there is a claim of a fundamental right that cannot reasonably be derived from one of the provisions of the Bill of Rights, even with the Ninth Amendment, how is the Court to determine, first, that it is fundamental, and second, that it is protected from abridgment?5