Title

The Power of Nine: Federalists, Antifederalists, and Natural Law Synthesis in the Ninth Amendment

Date

6-1-2017 10:00 AM

End Time

1-6-2017 10:15 AM

Location

WUC Columbia Room

Department

History

Session Chair

Elizabeth M. Swedo

Session Title

History Senior Thesis presentations

Faculty Sponsor(s)

Chris Cocoltchos

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

In the 1780s, the framers of the U.S. Constitution imbued the United States system of government with crucial Natural Law-based safeguards. Both Federalist supporters of the Constitution and Antifederalists who opposed ratification championed such protections. Each faction expressed both misgivings over the concentration of power in unaccountable bodies and apprehension regarding majoritarian impulses. Natural Law philosophy informed both George Mason’s arguments for a Bill of Rights in “Objections to the Constitution of Government Formed by the Convention” and James Wilson’s arguments against a Bill of Rights in his Pennsylvania Ratification speech. The result of this Natural Law synthesis was the Ninth Amendment, which sought to address the reservations of both parties by establishing that the American people retained unenumerated rights. While scholarship concerning the Ninth Amendment exists in the realm of political science and legal theory, this work expands the historical scholarship on the amendment by addressing its Natural Law context and assessing the amendment’s legacy of protecting unenumerated rights.

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Jun 1st, 10:00 AM Jun 1st, 10:15 AM

The Power of Nine: Federalists, Antifederalists, and Natural Law Synthesis in the Ninth Amendment

WUC Columbia Room

In the 1780s, the framers of the U.S. Constitution imbued the United States system of government with crucial Natural Law-based safeguards. Both Federalist supporters of the Constitution and Antifederalists who opposed ratification championed such protections. Each faction expressed both misgivings over the concentration of power in unaccountable bodies and apprehension regarding majoritarian impulses. Natural Law philosophy informed both George Mason’s arguments for a Bill of Rights in “Objections to the Constitution of Government Formed by the Convention” and James Wilson’s arguments against a Bill of Rights in his Pennsylvania Ratification speech. The result of this Natural Law synthesis was the Ninth Amendment, which sought to address the reservations of both parties by establishing that the American people retained unenumerated rights. While scholarship concerning the Ninth Amendment exists in the realm of political science and legal theory, this work expands the historical scholarship on the amendment by addressing its Natural Law context and assessing the amendment’s legacy of protecting unenumerated rights.