U.S. Constitution for Kids – Amendment X – June 1, 2011

June 1, 2011 – Amendment X – Interpretation of Mr. Andrew Langer’s Essay

Amendment X

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.

“States are not mere political subdivisions of the United States. State governments are neither regional offices nor administrative agencies of the Federal Government. The positions occupied by state officials appear nowhere on the Federal Government’s most detailed organizational chart. The Constitution instead “leaves to the several States a residuary and inviolable sovereignty,” [39 Federalist Paper] reserved explicitly to the States by the Tenth Amendment.” The Supreme Court in New York v. United States

Fun Fact #1

Alongside amendment nine, amendment ten does not explicitly enumerate a freedom or privilege enjoyed by the populace of the United States, as does the previous eight amendments. Amendment X is, instead, used as a bulwark for the states against the national government. In amendment ten, our founding fathers clearly voice their plan for the United States: a group of sovereign states; a government made up of three separate branches that are limited by their enumerated powers and the process of checks and balances that are in place; a people ruled under a Constitution that protects their rights as an individual against a tyrannical government.

Fun Fact #2

Under the Articles of Confederation, America was a “loose confederacy of sovereign states”.  When the Constitutional Convention gathered to compose the Constitution, they still envisioned America as a group of sovereign states, but in addition, they added a government of separated branches that constantly would check and balance each other. However, to ensure that this new form of government would not overpower the sovereignty of the states, the founding fathers of America added the tenth amendment to the Bill of Rights.

Fun Fact #3

The tenth amendment forever prohibits the federal government from intruding on the freedoms of the sovereign states, the federal government cannot “out-and-out compel a state to act in an area in which the states hold their own sovereign power”.

Fun Fact #4

Amendment X is most applicable to today in the area of the healthcare debate: does the federal government have the right to tell the states what healthcare they can use; can the federal government force a healthcare program upon the states? Under the tenth amendment, I think the answer would be no.

[T]he Constitution protects us from our own best intentions: it divides power among sovereigns and among branches of government precisely so that we may resist the temptation to concentrate power in one location as an expedient solution to the crisis of the day.” ~Sandra Day O’connor, the first female justice to be appointed to the United States Supreme Court.

God Bless,

Juliette Turner

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