Alito’s Abortion Ruling Overturning Roe Is an Insult to the 9th Amendment

At the heart of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturns Roe v. Wade (1973) and eliminates the constitutional right to abortion, is Alito’s objection that “the Constitution makes no mention of abortion.” For Alito and the many legal conservatives who think like him, unenumerated constitutional rights are inherently suspect. When a court recognizes an unenumerated right, these conservatives say, that court is almost certainly guilty of judicial activism.

But this conservative mindset is at odds with constitutional text and history, both of which make clear that unenumerated rights are entitled to the same respect as the small handful of rights that the Constitution specifically lists.

Remember that when the Constitution was first ratified, it did not yet contain its famous first 10 amendments, otherwise known as the Bill of Rights. Those amendments arrived a few years later. They were added in response to the fierce criticism leveled against the Constitution by the Anti-Federalists, who opposed ratification on several grounds, one of which was that the document lacked a bill of rights, and therefore, in their view, left a number of key rights unprotected (because unmentioned).

The Federalists, who labored on behalf of the Constitution’s ratification, rejected this argument. Why? Because, explained James Wilson, one of the leading figures at the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention, “if we attempt an enumeration, everything that is not enumerated is presumed to be given.” And the consequence of that, Wilson told the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention, “is, that an imperfect enumeration would throw all implied power into the scale of the government; and the rights of the people would be rendered incomplete.”

Full commentary by Damon Root @ Reason https://reason.com/2022/06/24/alitos-abortion-ruling-overturning-roe-is-an-insult-to-the-9th-amendment/

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