Nullification: The Jeffersonian Brake on Government

by Thomas E. Woods, The Freeman

Thinkers in the classical-liberal tradition, to the extent that they support a coercive state at all, speak routinely of the importance of keeping government strictly limited. To that end, the United States has a written Constitution, which enumerates the relatively brief list of tasks entrusted to the federal government and whose Tenth Amendment makes clear that any power not granted to the federal government resides in the states, the authors of the federal compact.

That is all well and good, but how does a theoretically limited government remain so? Some have argued that it is impossible to restrain a government over time. The framers of the Constitution, for their part, were well aware of the tendency for power to concentrate and expand. Thomas Jefferson spoke of the calamity that would result if all power were vested in the federal government.

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10th Amendment: History and Purpose

by Justin D. Lowry, Georgia Conservative Weekly

The purpose of the 10th Amendment is to define the establishment and division of power between the Federal government and state governments. This amendment also protects these powers from both entities. This amendment was used to define the federal taxing power, federal police power, and federal regulations.

At one time, it was read very simply, if it is not in the constitution, the federal government could not pass it to the states. Through the years, the power of the federal government has expanded through the Supreme Court.

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The Meaning of Federalism

by Clarence B. Carson, Fee.org

Several developments have contributed to making the meaning of federalism obscure. Some are old, some recent. Some may be more or less innocent; others are destructive of federalism itself. One of these that may be more or less innocent is the habit of referring to the United States government as the “federal government.”

Whether it is innocent or not, it does tend to confuse the unwary. These United States have a federal system of government. The system embraces both the general government and those of the states. Thus, both the United States government and the state government are correctly alluded to as “federal” governments.

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Unity and Federalism

by Gary Galles

After a bitter and divisive election, Democrats have regained the presidency and widened their control of Congress. Now they are making the usual political victors’ calls for unity. But unfortunately, Americans’ often diametrically opposed preferences for what they want government to do guarantees disunity under our current approach to governance.

Opposing desires (you want “A” but I want “not A”) mean that no national approach or plan can form the basis of unity. Instead, only returning to our Constitution’s forgotten federalism, especially the 10th Amendment, can reconcile them with national unity.

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Oklahoma: Standing up for State Sovereignty

by Rich Hand

As usual, Walter Williams hits the nail on the head. This article references a referendum introduced in the state legislature of Oklahoma to put the Federal government on notice that it has over stepped its bounds based on the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The founders would have never been able to get the constitution passed by the states if they could foresee the current actions of the federal government.

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National vs Local Government

by Clay Barham

If you reflect back on how the institutions of governance grew in America, from 1620 to the present, you will see that National Government grew into its present level without much public support.  The settlements starting in New England, as well as Jamestown, were small and managed more from a town hall perspective than any formalized institution.  Every hamlet, town and county was an almost informal, non-national government.  None of them existed as the means for special interests to capture the loyalty of some inhabitants, nor was there any treasury worth plundering.

They existed mainly for peacekeeping and settling civil disputes.  Town and hamlets wrote their own laws or ordnances to establish behavioral boundaries acceptable to the majority of citizens.  On occasion, when special interests did gain excess power, or criminals were more powerful than the peacekeepers, vigilante groups formed by citizens corrected those conditions.  Each colony acted as its own governing institution as it related to currency, infrastructure and relations with colonies and nations outside of its boundaries.

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