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Thursday, September 29, 2016
Amendment 10 – Federal Limits
From The Founders, Religion and Government:
The U.S. Constitution Part 28 of 44 Amendment 10 – Federal Limits
Like the 9th Amendment, the 10th serves as a barrier to a too powerful federal government. It is a reminder that supremacy does not flow from Washington but from the people.
“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.”
This idea that power comes from the people echoes the Declaration of Independence:
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”
It is from the people, through their states, that the Constitution was created. It was intended to create a government stronger than the Articles of Confederation which had failed to do what the central government of the nation must. But it was not meant to replace the oppressive government in London with an oppressive government in Washington. The Constitution lists powers granted to the federal government by the states and the people. It includes limitations on power by the states and some by all levels of government. The 10th is a further reminder that any powers not given to the federal government are not theirs. Those still belong to the states and to the people. As James Madison explained in Federalist 14,
“In the first place it is to be remembered that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.”
And in Federalist 45:
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”
The Framers of the Constitution did not intend to create a central government with states as mere administrative subdivisions. A reading of the document itself, along with the Federalist Papers, shows that they meant for the national government to only handle those things impossible or impractical for the states to manage and nothing else. Today the 10th is one of the most ignored of the Bill of Rights.