We often hear from “limited government” types talk of the Tenth Amendment that, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,” and this is all well and good. Conservatives have long seen the Tenth Amendment as a practical check on the powers of the central government and testament to the founders belief in local democracy.

But it is not enough to simply appeal to the Tenth Amendment.

If liberty loving Americans wish to restore their rights they should look to the much more radical, libertarian Ninth Amendment. The Ninth Amendment protects rights not even listed in the Constitution. It was the founders’ insurance that bureaucrats would not misconstrue the language of the document to deny any individual rights.

Rand Paul explains:

We need to defend the entire Bill of Rights. What does the Ninth Amendment say? Most people forget about the Ninth Amendment, but the Ninth Amendment was one of the most important parts of the Bill of Rights. In fact, the Bill of Rights would have never passed without the Ninth Amendment because many of the critics said, well, if you list certain rights, the people will think that’s all of the rights, and they’ll think that that’s a complete listing. So the people who put the Bill of Rights on the Constitution said we need to make sure they know this is just the beginning. It’s an impartial or incomplete list of your Bill of Rights. So the Ninth Amendment says those rights not listed are not to be disparaged because your rights come from your Creator and they are unlimited.

Founding Americans believed in much more than local democracy—that is, they believed in much more than unrestrained government powers whether national or local—they also believed the powers of any government at any time, even a government in the name of the people, must be in accordance with natural law. They believed each individual person’s liberty was as natural as the air we breathe and our rights in relation to one another as numerous as the stars.

In other words, our liberty precedes any government and is the ultimate check, the great bulwark, against the powers of the State.

As Judge Andrew Napolitano spotlights in his book Suicide Pact, a book which includes a foreword by Rand Paul:

In fact, the Drafters enshrined the protection of the rights inherently held by persons prior to any social compact in the Constitution itself, as the Ninth Amendment, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”…The use of the word retained all but tips the Framers’ hands as to their recognition of the source of rights as being individual humanity.

I have been waiting for someone to sing from the rooftops the importance of this often forgotten amendment, and Senator Rand Paul is leading this much-needed chorus:

The Constitution presumes your liberty. Defend it.