Thursday, July 8, 2010
People Retain Power
The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that the people retain all powers not specifically defined and delegated to the government. The Founders of our unique and great nation feared that a federal government would grow so powerful that it would crowd the rights that legally and morally belonged to the people and/or the states . They spent much time and effort to carefully define the powers delegated to the government. They wanted to limit the authority of the government by the use of legal chains written into the Constitution. W. Cleon Skousen wrote, "It will be recalled that one of the reasons many of the states would not adopt the original draft of the Constitution was that they feared the encroachments of the federal government on the rights of the states and the people. The first ten amendments were therefore added to include the ancient, unalienable rights of Anglo-Saxon freemen so there could be no question as to the strictly limited authority the people were conferring on their central government." After writing the first eight Amendments to the Constitution, the Founders added two more that specifically limited the power of the government. The Ninth Amendment reads, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The Tenth Amendment makes their meaning even clearer: "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." Our Founders were familiar with governments in the past that were corrupt and abusive. By limiting the power of the federal government and dividing the powers between the states and the central government, the Founders hoped to provide more security for the people. Alexander Hamilton explained, "This balance between the national and state governments ought to be dwelt on with peculiar attention, as it is of the utmost importance. It forms a double security to the people. If one encroaches on their rights, they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will both be prevented from over-passing their constitutional limits, by certain rivalship which will ever subsist between them." As the Constitution was originally written, states could protect themselves from legislation taking their rights. The Founders wrote that the two Senators from each state were to be selected by the legislature of that particular state. Because the Senate could veto any legislation by the House of Representatives, the Senators were able to protect the rights of their states. When the Seventeenth Amendment in 1931 changed the election of Senators to a popular vote, the States lost their representatives and therefore some of their protection. The illegal immigration problem in Arizona is just one example of how the federal government is trying to crush the state's right to protect its citizens. It may be time for the people of the United States to force a repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment. The rights of the people as well as the rights of the states would be better protected if Senators were chosen by the legislature of their particular state. Ideas and quotes for this post came from The Five Thousand Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen, pp 161-164.