The Tenth Amendment – The Story of the Bill of Rights
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The Tenth Amendment – The Story of the Bill of Rights

September 27, 2019


The Tenth 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. What the Tenth Amendment says is that if a power is not explicitly granted to the federal government, then it falls back to either the states or to the people, generally. The Tenth Amendment is a bit of an anomaly in the Bill of Rights, because it doesn’t deal with rights as such. It deals with powers. If you think about the fact that people were very nervous about this new government that was being set in motion, and that they were afraid that it was going to take more power than it deserved, and that they were afraid that it was going to take away rights, it makes sense. When you look at the Bill of Rights, particularly at the last two, Article IX and Article X, both of them in one way or another are saying, okay, the Constitution can only do what it says it’s going to do and we get all the rights that we have, even if they’re not in the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights that emerged, that was drafted by Madison, was a Federalist, a centralizer, but he drafted it in a way to appease Anti-Federalists. From the beginning to the end, states’ rights are an important part of the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment says Congress shall make no law restricting the federal government. Not the states, the federal government. And the Tenth Amendment, which is the end of the Bill of Rights, is doing the same thing. It’s imposing some limits on the federal government and it reminds everyone that the federal government is a government of enumerated powers. That the federal government’s power isn’t complete and total, that state governments have important powers as well.

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