The Phaserl


The Exceptional Tenth Amendment and Its Exception

by Matt Erickson, GoldAndLiberty:

The last of the Amendments of the Bill of Rights, the Tenth, is as exceptional as the others, declaring:

“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.”

The essence of the Tenth Amendment is that the States individually reserved all the powers which they didn’t collectively delegate over to the federal government.

Qualifiers must be inserted into that broad statement, of course, because within the Constitution, the States also voluntarily relinquished, back to the people at large, some of the powers which the States had previously exercised but were thereafter prohibiting themselves from exercising, such as the power to emit bills of credit (the power to issue a paper currency).1

The principle of reserved powers is actually inherent within the delegation of enumerated powers. Thus, by the very structure of the original Constitution, the principles of the Tenth Amendment were in force even before it was ever formally proposed and ratified as an amendment. The ratification of the Tenth Amendment simply validates and acknowledges this strict constitutional principle openly and unambiguously.

The Preamble to the Bill of Rights informs us that the amendments therein (including the Tenth) help to “prevent misconstruction or abuse” of federal powers and help extend the ground of “public confidence” in the general government.

But do they today?

Does the Tenth Amendment today actually help prevent the abuse of federal powers? Does it today extend public confidence in the federal government?

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