Restoring the…what?  That’s what many people seem to respond with when a discussion of the 10th Amendment, States Rights and Federalism comes up – however infrequent that may be.  But it seems that this discussion might be getting a little more attention in the near future.

Recently, highlighted Presidential Candidate Ron Paul.  Here’s what he had to say on the issue:

“As president, one of my priorities will be restoring the 10th amendment and federalism. Decisions about issues like civil unions or right-to-die legislation should be made by the states, not the federal government. I will stop federal judges from imposing new definitions on the States. I will also return control over education to parents and local communities. Decisions about whether or not to fund vouchers, have merit pay for teachers or extend the school year should be made by parents and local school boards, not by D.C.-based bureaucrats.”


The Constitution was written under a principle called “positive grant.”  What this means is quite straightforward: The Federal Government is authorized to exercise only those powers which are specifically given to it by the Constitution.  In short, if the power is (positively) listed, the Federal Government is granted the authority to do it.

The Founding Fathers felt this principle was so important that they codified it in law as the 10th 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.”

Pretty simple, isn’t it?  All these political discussions we have about what is or is not Constitutional is reduced to this clear, concise principle, and most of what the Federal Government engages in these days is not authorized by the Constitution.

It’s almost universal in government that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” -  as Lord Acton once wrote.  Therefore, the politicians in all three branches of government have no incentive to follow the plain English of the Constitution – which meant as a set of rules to restrict their power.  Their goal, naturally, is to increase their own power, which is directly at odds with the 10th amendment, and the vision of the founding fathers.

It seems to me that Ron Paul is the only Presidential candidate who is interested in protecting liberty, and he’s proposing doing that by following one simple rule – the 10th Amendment.

The 10th 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.”



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The 10th Amendment

History, meaning, and purpose - the "Foundation of the Constitution."

10th Amendment



Get an overview of the principles, background, and application in history - and today.