The 10th Amend­ment and re­vival of fed­er­al­ism

The Washington Times Daily - - CELEBRATING FREEDOM - By Tim Don­ner 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.

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.

It reads:

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

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