The 10th Amendment and revival of federalism
There has always been scant argument among constitutional scholars about which of the amendments in the Bill of Rights is most important. Most of course will answer that it is the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion and petition for government redress of grievances.
But when it comes to the amendment that has been the most ignored, misinterpreted or abused, few could argue against the 10th Amendment.
This amendment, which serves to institutionalize a system of governance known as dual federalism, is the corollary to the few and defined powers assigned to the federal government. It was designed to leave no doubt that powers not specifically granted to the executive, legislative and judicial branches in the Constitution belong to the states or the people.
But as the federal government, most specifically the executive and judicial branches (the president and the courts), have continually expanded their purview and grasped powers far above and beyond those prescribed by the Framers and enumerated in the Constitution, federalism has taken a beating.
Up through the Civil War, the people identified more with their own states than they did with the United States. Citizens of Virginia were more Virginians than they were Americans, and likewise with people in other states. The concept of forfeiting sovereignty to the federal government was largely anathema, and hardly on the radar.
That changed profoundly when Abraham Lincoln became president in 1861. Lincoln aggressively exercised federal authority in attempting to thwart secessionist movements in states that would become a part of the Confederacy. This structure of increased federal control remained in place after that war, and has