States rights – Why the tenth amendment matters

States rights – How Americans ignore the US constitution, the 10th Amendment, systematically lose their freedom, rights and liberty and apparently do not care

Under the 10th Amendment States have the right to keep all power not specifically given to the US Federal government written in the US constitution. This idea was crafted into the US constitution by the founding fathers, particularly Thomas Jefferson, to prevent the Federal government from growing too big, over stepping its powers which often results in a large central government run by bureaucrats.

Preventing this was the whole point of the American Revolution, to create a government that protects life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not stifling it. The founding fathers felt a loose confederation of states was the way do this.

The constitution granted states the right for nullification and succession. This is no interpretation of the constitution.

states rights tenth amendment
The Federalist papers no. 84 contain the intent of the Tenth amendment and the issue of states rights. At the heart of this issues is the future of your liberties, if you care.

The 10th Amendment literally says:

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.

This Amendment was a direct continuation of the Articles of Confederation statement:

Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.

Judges have chipped away at the interpretation of this constitutional  law:

  • United States v. Sprague (1931)
  • United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100, 124 (1941)
  • South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203 (1987)
  • New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992)
  • Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997)

Federal funding is lost if the states do not follow the central bureaucracy

The Federal power is gradually centralized and reaffirmed. The Federal government power is asserted via the tax, debt and reallocation of money to the States system enforces this law. If a particular state would not adhere, they would be taxed, but no money would flow back into the state. They would have all the burden of being in the Union and none of the benefits.

This is how the nationwide 55 mile an hour speed limit was enforced. States would lose highway money. It was a silly little ridiculous law.

Why State’s rights matter

However, states rights are not about silly laws like that. It is about when a Federal government becomes centralizes and powerful through incremental ism. States can not challenge or nullify Federal mandates, even if seems not to apply or be of benefit to a particular state or represent the beliefs of the people of that state.

The end result is always the same, government mandates, centralizes and becomes too strong. Top down management is also inefficient and often steps on ‘little people’ who are kept in their place.

Federalism is the ultimate top down approach

Having a strong central government that mandates universal laws and applies it to every household, is the opposite of democracy and efficiency. Americans say they have a democracy, I think it more like a like a large iron ship that is trying to navigate and turn though a narrow channel of water.

In our country a manifestation of centralization and a top down approach is seen by: large debt is placed on top of debt, and taxes on taxes, and wields its unlimited power and use up the trust of the American people in less than noble ways. Washington in its arrogance acts like an empire, to its own citizens and the world.

An empire where rich old men send poor young men and women to come back in body bags. State national guard units, young people who wanted to help their state in emergence or pay for the college are sent, not to help their state in times of flood or emergency, but to clear roadside bombs in Iraq.

Federal bureaucrats dictate their conception of that should be taught in schools children. Some see this as indoctrination.

The public’s liberties, rights and privacy are eroded with fear being used as a tool to get people to surrender their liberties. If a State protests like Texas did with body scans, the Federal government acts swiftly to squash the independent thinking.

Think about it while the Federal government operations maintain secrecy, you are watched more and more. What if we as private citizens were able to audit and watch the government workers, including the Federal Reserve? But this will never happen.

In summary the road to an authoritarian state is when the Federal government consolidates power, taking it from a bottoms up approach to a top down approach.

The Federalist papers no. 84

The Federalist papers are important as they describe the intent of the framers of the constitution, the ultimate law in our land. In the supreme court as cites the Federalist papers hundreds of times in their decisions. It is an original authoritative document.

James Madison, Thomas Jefferson never envisioned this and designed the constitution to safe guard against it. In fact Madison thought the 10th amendment did not need extra language because it was a truism that the states have the power except in exceptional cases.

If you read the Federalist papers, no 84 is about the rights of the people vs the role of the government as it related to the bill of rights.

Alexander Hamilton was against the Bill of Rights because his interpretation of this would be, it was a list of rights of the citizens, while these rights are self-evident. By listing them future generations might interpret this list as the only rights citizens have. If you read the Federalist paper, you will see the Federal government was clearly meant to be limited and the power was to reside in the States and more important the rights of citizens were to be expansive.

What if the US constitution was respected?

If the US constitution was respected and defended US citizens would have more choices in their lives, more freedom. They could live in the states were law and order was more in agreement with their life ideals.

In an alternative reality in which government workers, including the military honored their pledge to the constitution, you would not have the US military hunting US citizens with drones without a trial like was done in Syria. We could have school choice for children, no monopoly on money, we could live in a state that is governed more in accordance with their political economic ideas.

Choose your State based on the way to the laws and lifestyle

Even under the current system we live, people do this to a limited extent. It is no coincidence that, one of the reasons I choose to live in Florida was there is no state income tax. In contrast, Many states like Oregon California, and New Jersey will siphon off about 10% of your earnings or over a month of your work life a years.

More important, if there was limited Federal government, some states would be financially responsible and have a balanced budget and others would not. Each State could issue their owe money as well as private citizens. People would live in states that were not train wrecks fiscally or enjoyed more personal freedoms. It would create competition between states for hard-working honest citizen. On the other hand if you want to live in a free lunch state like California, you would accept higher taxes.

What is really done at the state level Vs. the Federal government?

Think how much is done at the state and local level. Schools, roads, prisons, courts, state armies, air force, fire, police, parks, assistance to the poor, including food stamps and even medical insurance. At the state level there are driver’s license, Real Estate and lawyer and other professional licenses and regulations.

It makes you wonder why the US government exists at all if day-to-day life is done at the local and state level. Of course there is Federal government funding to the states, but come on this is a small part of the black hole called the Federal Budget.

Why does 1/3 of your life, really more if you aggregate all taxes go to the Federal government? They are not here to help you. For example, when I had problems abroad I felt they were more worried about cover their own complacency, then helping me the tax payer and citizen.

If the Federal government were to shut down, disappear or turn into a small into a small set of buildings which holds the US Constitution and the President acting mostly as the ambassador to other countries,; after an adjustment phase the world would go one. Of course this scenarios is to just make a point. The USA does not need to be the greatest empire the world has ever seen as well as being, the lender of last resort to failed businessmen nor control the money as well as every aspect of our lives.

Basically life would go on and the United States of America would prosper after an adjustment phase.

In another scenarios what happens when states rights are ignored and government continues to expand ad consolidate power:

  • The problem of massive Federal debt will not go away, which neither party in this great democracy of ours will address until it causes long-run damage to US competitiveness. Then everyone will be stretching their heads saying what happened. The Federal government happened. I can assure you Federal assistance to the poor and small business will go before the massive military industrial complex, the state department and the CIA and other government agencies. A military state will always cut social programs before military and spy agencies which seem to be expanding.
  • We have a Federal government that watches your every move, instead of the converse being true. The Federal government in my mind operates under the shroud of cloak and dagger guarded secrecy, like in George Or-well’s 1984. Big brother is watching you. You could be deemed as an enemy combatant. What if Americans watched the move of every bureaucrat and the lavish lifestyles I have personally witnessed with government workers and outsourced consulting firms? I bet corruption and waste would decrease if people really understood how their money was being spent. However, in free America that will not happen. The Federal government watches you, not the converse.

The Civil war and States rights issues

Did we not fight the civil war because of States rights which were connected to Slavery and other inhuman laws? Yes. There is a simple solution regarding the issue of slavery and civil rights. Of course there could be some limited Federal laws that deal with human rights and respect for the individual. That was an exceptional case and specific to the time, once we have crossed the huddles of abolishing slavery and civil rights for all people, the pendulum now swings in the other direction.

But the Civil war was caused by the Federal government making things worst with draconian laws. For example, In 1828 for example South Carolina was strapped with a horribly unfair Tariff Act. When the State nullified the law in 1832 . This unfair law escalated the conflict and polarized both sides. The north was industrial and the south was agrarian based. This was regardless of the slave issue. If there was no slavery the issue would be the same. The North passed laws that held the North but hurt the South. GDP in the South plummeted. If you like original documents you can read John C. Calhoun’ defense of nullification.

Jefferson in the Kentucky resolution of 1799 supported nullification as did Madison in the Virginia resolution in 1798.

Resolved, that the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that by compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes, delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government. – Thomas Jefferson

It was almost universal that states would have the right to nullify Federal laws to the founding fathers to prevent abuse and growth of a central government.

  • A good resource is Nullification: How to resist the Federal Tyranny in he 21st century by Thomas woods.
  • The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution by constitutional scholar Kevin Gutzman.
  • States right – the tenth amendment – quietly growing movement. I expect to see more challenges to the current interpretation of the 10th Amendment.

The Federal government needs to exists almost with the sole purpose of protecting individual rights of its citizens.

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One response to “States rights – Why the tenth amendment matters”

  1. The Founders established a republic, not a democracy. You wrote: “Having a strong central government that mandates universal laws and applies it to every household, is the opposite of democracy and efficiency. Americans say they have a democracy.” The Founders knew that democracies always lead to tyranny. The rest of the article, I enjoyed a great deal.

    You might enjoy this article which explores this subject in greater detail:

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