I’ve begun to identify a few topics that will be very important in the next few years – the difference between deficit and debt, Andrew Jackson, and the Tenth Amendment. The issue with deficit and debt has already been explored here and here, but I’m sure, as time goes on, current events will compel me to revisit them again and again, since politicians like to use those two terms interchangeably. I mention Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, because among many other noteworthy acts, Jackson is the only president to every pay down the national debt to zero. When Andrew Jackson left office, this country had no debt. In addition to that unusual interest in fiscal responsibility, he also “broke” the U.S. Bank, viewing it as unconstitutional – I’ll have more on him when I get a chance to finish my research… And finally, on my list of important topics for the next few years, is the Tenth Amendment – the topic of this posting.
The Amendment is very straight-forward, unambiguous, and is, in the eyes of many, among the most important elements of our Constitution. It reads as follows:
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.
At the time of the ratification of the Constitution many were wary about certain omissions of the document and what emerged as the various colonies ratified the Constitution was the creation of what are now referred to as the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution.
As Thomas Jefferson wrote – in a letter to Madison, Jefferson indicated what he did not like about the proposed Constitution:
‘‘First the omission of a bill of rights providing clearly and without the aid of sophisms for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies, restriction against monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trials by jury in all matters of the fact triable by the laws of the land and not by the law of Nations. . . . Let me add that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.’’ [emphasis added]
Source: Private correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison
and in a letter to Archibald Stuart:
It is important to strengthen the State governments, and as this cannot be done by change in the Federal Constitution (for the preservation of that is all we need contend for), it must be done by States themselves, erecting such barriers at the constitutional line as cannot be surmounted either by themselves or by the General Government. The only barrier in their power is a wise government. A weak one will lose ground in every contest. [emphasis added]
Source: Private correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and Archibald Stuart, 1791
The concern that led to the creation of the Tenth Amendment in particular was the concern that the colonies in creating a federal government could be made subject to that very government. The Tenth amendment defines the disposition of all rights not assigned to the Federal government by the Constitution.
So, as various federal laws, regulations, and polices are enacted, when you hear people refer to a “Tenth Amendment Challenge” they are discussing the idea that the proposal is outside the scope of the powers the states granted the federal government…
Note: I included the Youtube clip from The Young Turks to show you how some like to twist, pull, contort and mis-interpret the Tenth Amendment. The wording is plain, the intent is clear, yet this fellow insists that because the Congress has the responsibility to “provide for…the general welfare OF THE UNITED STATES” that anything that helps a citizen is a federal responsibility, ignoring the clear language that syas Congress is responsible for the welfare of the NATION, not each individual citizen…
YouTube Video: Idiot Right Wing On 10th Amendment
Government Printing Office: The Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence, Pocket Edition, Analysis and Interpretation of the Constitution, 2002 Edition and Amendments to the Constitution, First through Tenth Amendments, Bill of Rights
University of Chicago Press: The Founders’ Constitution Volume 1, Chapter 8, Document 42 – James Madison, Report on the Virginia Resolutions
Tenthammendmentcenter.com: Is the Repeal Amendment What We Need?
usconstitution.net: U.S. Constitution – Article 1 Section 8