Guest Commentary by Dan Reale

You can ask anybody what the first amendment prevents infringement upon. They might know about one thing, freedom of speech, but incorrectly, tell you we are granted freedom of speech. Even then, most miss the other four inalienable rights the Constitution limits the federal government from violating.

Most are equally unaware of the right of the people to keep and bear arms, and even of their status as militia under U.S. code. Most also don’t know that the third amendment prevents forced slumber parties with soldiers, and further assume that one’s right to be secure in his papers, person and effects can be waived by law – without a rebellion or invasion. They also believe that the seizure of life, liberty or property is okay without a warrant, just compensation or due process is legal.

What about the ninth amendment, the one that restricts powers granted to the federal government from being construed to deny rights retained by the states of the people?

That, too, was forgotten.

What should concern us the most is the tenth amendment. It denies the federal government from assuming any additional powers not granted to it by the Constitution. There are many historical reasons.

I didn’t catch the right of the government to pay farmers not to grow food in Article 1, Section 8. But FDR thought that raising the price of food when most of us were eating ketchup sandwiches was a great plan.

Our founders certainly didn’t write things like Social Security or Medicare into the Constitution. That’s not because they hated the disadvantaged.

It was because they foresaw that such programs would be abused, their trust funds raided and their recipients deprived. Some estimates have concluded Social Security recipients to be deprived of as much as 43% of their benefits. According to GAO comptroller David Walker, there is no “lock box”.

Our founders also didn’t authorize a central bank of issue that would loan us our own money in Article 1, Section 8. That’s because such organizations habitually ruin a currency. In fact, the dollar we have them in 1913 is worth less than four cents.

After the Bank of England virtually destroyed their economy, which was the real impetus of the revolt, we learned a little more. After our failed experiment with the Continental Dollar, we figured it out.

What is truly disturbing is that the Federal Reserve is not a government entity, as ruled in Lewis v United States 680 F.2d 1239 (9th Cir. 1982).

Calling it “federal” did not make it federal. Federal Express is not federal, and Federal Pizza is not federal because it has pepperoni.

Congress then had the audacity to tell us that Article 1, Section 8 gave them authority delegate their power to a private entity, and they don’t need to oversee monetary policy. Given its absolute failure to safeguard the value of the dollar, we have again learned why the tenth amendment prohibited this.

I personally wonder how bad the economy has to get before people figure it out. Since the Federal Reserve is now fighting inflation with inflation, my suspicion is that people will get the bailouts they’re asking for – and they will get it hard.

Nothing in Article 1, Section 8 includes education. There is also, again, nothing in there about healthcare. We were number one in healthcare and education, but federal involvement took care of that.

Go ask a college graduate what the tenth amendment says. Then, ask that same graduate if he or she would object to the healthcare industry writing its own laws. The irony is that people seek to break up monopolies through government, when in fact, monopolies are only possible through government.

What should frighten us the most is that Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution authorizes Congress to declare war. We’ve had a never ending series of wars since World War Two – but no declaration of war.

If the president is declaring war, and the tenth amendment bars any part of the government from assuming powers it does not have, when will it end? If you want to delegate that power, amend the Constitution, Congress. Don’t tell us you can write a law outside the parameters of your authority without extending them.

Will the Supreme Court eventually declare war? In a sad way, I’d prefer it. There’d be a chance for a dissenting opinion.

Contempt for the tenth amendment is truly limitless, and, not surprisingly, we’re broke. Instead of sending us checks as a bail out from monetary and fiscal mismanagement, which will come from raiding Social Security, Medicare or more inflation, Congress should go figure it out. I can’t think of a higher insult to the poorest, who suffer first and foremost from this, than to steal their wages while debasing their purchasing power and offshoring jobs.

As the reader may infer, this discussion could go on all day. I’ll just leave you with a brief list of things I’d like Congress to show me in Article 1, Section 8, or for that matter, any other part of the Constitution. Show me –

  • Drug war
  • Tax credit for producing coal dipped in latex
  • Paying Americans to run sweatshops overseas
  • Registering churches with the IRS
  • Study on sex life of mosquitoes
  • Gun control
  • Executive negotiation of treaties without Senate input
  • The WTO telling us how to run our trade policy
  • Using our armed forces on behalf of the UN

Dan Reale is a Libertarian Party candidate for Congress in Connecticut.  Visit his website at

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.”



Featured Articles

On the Constitution, history, the founders, and analysis of current events.

featured articles


Tenther Blog and News

Nullification news, quick takes, history, interviews, podcasts and much more.

tenther blog


State of the Nullification Movement

232 pages. History, constitutionality, and application today.

get the report


Path to Liberty

Our flagship podcast. Michael Boldin on the constitution, history, and strategy for liberty today

path to liberty


maharrey minute

The title says it all. Mike Maharrey with a 1 minute take on issues under a 10th Amendment lens. maharrey minute

Tenther Essentials

2-4 minute videos on key Constitutional issues - history, and application today


Join TAC, Support Liberty!

Nothing helps us get the job done more than the financial support of our members, from just $2/month!



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.