by Susan Lynn, 57th District Rep., Tennessee

State sovereignty is a big deal to state legislators; hopefully, it is to you as well. It is what keeps the federal government from over stepping its constitutional bounds.

Today many state legislators, including some in Tennessee, have decided it is time to affirm state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and demand the federal government halt its practice of assuming powers and of imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution.

The history of the formation of our federal government is long and complex but what the framers sought was a government that protected man’s natural rights; declared by the Declaration of Independence to be the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; better interpreted to mean that all men, by nature are equally free and independent with the right to work, acquire property and pursue their own individual happiness.

When the Constitution was drawn, the various states in existence already had Constitutions with several enumerated rights. Therefore, many of the framers believed that it was not necessary to include individual rights in a federal constitution. They feared that in doing so, the Constitution might incorrectly be construed as a document which limited the rights of the people and of the states.

Eventually the supporters of a bill of rights won out, and the Bill of Rights was drafted to guarantee equal rights for all Americans but compromise also brought the Tenth Amendment guaranteeing limits on federal power;

1. Freedoms of speech, press and religion

2. People’s right to keep and bear arms

3. Protection from quartering troops

4. To be free of unreasonable searches and seizures

5. Right to due process and the prohibition of double jeopardy

6. Trial by jury and other rights of the accused

7. Right to civil trial by jury

8. Prohibition of excessive bail, as well as prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment

9. Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights

10. Powers reserved for the states and people

As you can see, the various rights are not necessarily rights that exist in the state of nature but rather rights designed to affirm and protect our natural rights; for example, freedom of the press protects liberty, and trial by jury protects life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The state sovereignty movement seeks to remind the federal government that the Tenth Amendment ensures that “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.”

After all, the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states. However today, in 2009, the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government. Many powers and federal mandates are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution; this limits our freedom and costs taxpayers untold billions of dollars – or should I say trillions?

I believe that it is time we step forth as other states are doing and affirm Tennessee’s sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States. We should also demand that the federal government halt and reverse its practice of assuming powers and of imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution. Tennessee HJR 108 will do just that. With your support, hopefully, we can begin to reverse the federal power grab.

Susan Lynn [send her email] is a member of the Tennessee General Assembly; serving on the Commerce Committee and Chairman of the Government Operations committee. She holds a BS in economics and a minor in history. She is the Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Commerce Task Force.  Visit her blog at http://susan-lynn.blogspot.com


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