Sexual Rights in America: The Ninth Amendment and the Pursuit of Happiness

Sexual Rights in America: The Ninth Amendment and the Pursuit of Happiness

Sexual Rights in America: The Ninth Amendment and the Pursuit of Happiness

Sexual Rights in America: The Ninth Amendment and the Pursuit of Happiness


"Sexual Rights in Americadevelops an argument that us useful, timely, well conceived, and will provide a handy primer for courses designed to introduce students to the basics of constitutional privacy."- Journal of NSRC"A fascinating...argument for the inclusion of sexual freedoms among the enumerated rights in the Ninth Amendment" - Conscience "As the subtitle suggest, the authors want to combine the least specific article of the Bill of Rights with the equally vague, if well-known, phrase from the Declaration of Independence, to make a case for the right of consenting American adults to have sex how, when, and with whom they like....Recommended." - Choice

The Constitution of the United States guarantees all Americans certain rights, such as the freedoms of speech and religious expression. But what guarantees oursexualfreedoms?Sexual Rights in Americapresents a bold and intriguing look at the constitutional basis of sexual rights in America. Resurrecting the "forgotten" Ninth Amendment, which guarantees those fundamental rights not protected elsewhere in the Constitution, Abramson and colleagues argue that the freedom to choose how, when, and with whom we express ourselves sexually is integral to our happiness. Their careful review of the historical record reveals the importance of the "pursuit of happiness" in the socio-moral philosophy underpinning the Constitution. Sexual freedoms, they assert, are cut from the same cloth as the other freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, and therefore, should be covered by the Ninth Amendment. Using concrete examples such as prostitution and phone sex, Sexual Rights in America illustrates the scope and limitations of Ninth Amendment sexual rights.


The freedoms of speech and press are trumpeted throughout the land. These rights are fundamental, we are told, because they form the foundations of democracy. They are so important, in fact, that they are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

But what about other forms of expression, such as sexual intimacy? Are Americans free to express themselves sexually? Specifically, are sexual rights protected by the Constitution?

If sexual freedoms do exist in the Constitution, they certainly are not explicit. Perhaps this was intentional—as though sex didn't belong in such rarefied company as the freedoms of speech and the press, or protection against self-incrimination.

Yet, without sex, the human race cannot endure. the survival of the United States, in particular, depends upon sex. Thus, in the grand scheme of things, sex matters—certainly as much as speech and press. Moreover, ours is a nation conceived upon the “self-evident” truth that all men (and women) have a fundamental right to the pursuit of happiness. the pursuit of sexual fulfillment, we will argue, is integral to the overall happiness and well-being of the American populace.

But if sex is so important, why can't we locate it in the Constitution? the problem, we believe, is not that sex is absent from the Constitution, but rather that it is hidden away, subsumed by the most misunderstood of the ten amendments that make up the Bill of Rights—namely, the Ninth Amendment.

The purpose of this book is to establish a vital and functional constitutional foundation for sexual rights in America, based on the Ninth Amendment. This historically neglected amendment states that “The . . .

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