It’s commonplace these days for the government and its courts to consider the 10th Amendment to be nothing more than a “relic” – basically, not having any effect, or limiting the power of the federal government in any way.
These politicians and bureaucrats ignore the plain words of the 10th in an effort to grant themselves more and more power – at the expense of our incomes and our liberty.
A simple reading of Federalist #14 shows that the founders (even those accused of wanting too much federal power) understood that a Constitution was written as a strict limit on the power of government – and not as a grant of unlimited powers.
Here’s an excerpt:
â€œ[I]t 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 to be 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. The subordinate governments [i.e. the states — that’s right, South Carolina, you’re being called subordinate] which can extend their care to all those other objects, which can be separately provided for, will retain their due authority and activity.â€
Lily, at her blaseblah blog, makes some excellent points on the concept of limited government and the 10th amendment:
This is especially fascinating in light of the fact that it was written pre-Bill of Rights. Isnâ€™t this the Tenth Amendment** in embryo?!
It also demonstrates the fact that the Federalists were not fans of the Bill of Rights â€” that bill was, in fact forced through by the anti-Federalists. The Federalists did not think the Constitution need to provide, for example, that â€œCongress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.â€ If the body of the Constitution doesnâ€™t give Congress the explicit right TO make such a law, then it is presumed that Congress CANâ€™T. To these Federalists, Congressâ€™s early stapling of a giant addendum to the original Constitution must have felt at best foolish, and at worst extremely dangerous. The Federalistsâ€™ project was not to think of every possible bad thing that the federal government could do and forbid it ahead of time. Instead they simply hoped to make a list of every good thing that they WANTED the government to do, and leave it implied that the government canâ€™t do any extra stuff beyond this list. If we start adding â€œcanâ€™t doâ€™sâ€ to the â€œcan doâ€ list (they thought), arenâ€™t we opening wide the door to other future â€œcanâ€™t doâ€™sâ€ that no one can think of right now?
These days, the politicians look at it backwards – instead of seeing the Constitution as a strict limit on what they can do, they claim that if a power is not expressly prohibited, they can wield it.
There’s no better path for tyranny than a government that operates in such a manner.