The Tenth Amendment

Friends,

There is currently a movement fostered by the Coalition for a Conservative Majority, Colorado Springs to encourage the Colorado Legislature and governor to tell the federal government that we are going to uphold the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution and expect the same from them. I don’t have to tell you what prompted this movement. At this point I think we should review the Tenth Amendment:

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.

That seems pretty simple to me. That tells me that the powers granted to the federal government are specifically enumerated in the Constitution and no other powers are to be assumed by that government. It also says that if a power is not specifically granted to the federal government, it is reserved for the individual states or passed directly to the people.

This is a good place to discuss the purpose of the Bill of Rights. The first nine Amendments were drafted specifically to enumerate and ensure those rights that the founders believed the citizens possessed by virtue of being citizens. The Bill of Rights was drafted to set restrictions on government. It could be cogently argued that each individual Amendment of the first ten is more important than the others. However, I would argue that the first nine Amendments equally detail the rights of all citizens of the United States and the Tenth Amendment sets the boundaries for the federal government with respect to those rights.

While I am not a constitutional scholar, I have read it many times and have yet to find where the federal government has the authority to hold such massive control over the states. All of that control has been legislated since 1791. This points out two problems; first is that Congress and successive presidents have taken it upon themselves to exert that control and second that the states and citizens allow them to do it.

I see two ways to view the power of the federal government. The first is that the feds give the states, communities, and individuals money for various purposes under various programs. In exchange for these monies they demand certain “paybacks.” The overwhelming tendency today is to give the federal government what it wants because states, communities, and individuals want the money. The second way to look at it is to question why are we so willing to accede to their wishes, especially considering that it is our money that they are giving us? The US government has a very poor track record when it comes to living up to its self-proclaimed obligations. Congress just changes those obligations at will, not bothering to consult with the people most affected.

One concept to “encourage” the feds to live up to their obligations is to put all monies slated to go to them into a “sequester fund” until such time that they live up to their stated obligations. The problem with this concept is that we would be admitting that they have the authority to enact and carry out the many programs that come out of Washington. I would argue that they do not have that authority as stipulated in the Tenth Amendment.

I would urge all state legislatures to pass binding resolutions to disassociate themselves from the mandates of the federal government except those specifically set down by the Constitution. Why should we in Colorado pay for the housing of someone who cannot or will not work in Detroit? That is a city and/or state issue and not within the mandate of the federal government. It is time for us to take our rights back!

Find out just what the people will submit to and you will have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
Frederick Douglass, August 4, 1857

For more on this subject refer to my Political Discourse of 10 June 2008 entitled Constitutional Authority on this blogsite.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and discussion.

Dan

One thought on “The Tenth Amendment

  1. Instead of sequestering the funds, return to the original funding strategy of the Founders: the states send a per capitum payment annually to the Federal Government. That, plus import tariffs, were the principal funds available to the Feds.

    The Feds sending money to the States and municipalities is a corruption of the original structure.

    As the Federalist Papers put it, the States are general governments and the Federal Government is a particular government. That is, the States can do anything within their own charters (except not have a republican form of government) — that includes building harbors, roads, supporting church schools, funding the militia. The Federal government is limited by the Constitution to national defense and foreign affairs plus a limited amount of regulation of interstate commerce and coinage.

    You see, the theory was that the States were sovereign and gave up some of their sovereignty — that relating to the common defense — to the Federal Government. Since the cost of that common defense is easily allocatable on a per capitum basis, the States were to contribute on a per capitum basis.

    Of course, the method of collecting that per capitum was left to the individual States. As I read the Constitution, there was no problem if their legislatures chose to impose an income tax.

    BTW, it took an amendment to allow a federal income tax. That, along with direct election of senators, was one of the most egregious violations of the original intent and governmental metamodel of the Founders.

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