Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

States' Rights - Not

                    The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the fact that the Tenth Amendment grants "powers" to States and the Constitution preserves the "rights" of the people.  Conservatives need to stop crying for "States' rights" and talk instead about the powers delegated to States and the sovereignty of the States.

                    The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution declares:  "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." 

                    In an essay by The Heritage Foundation about the Tenth Amendment, we read, "The Tenth Amendment expresses the principle that undergirds the entire plan of the original Constitution:  the national government possesses only those powers delegated to it.  The Framers of the Tenth Amendment had two purposes in mind when they drafted it.  The first was a necessary rule of construction.  The second was to reaffirm the nature of the federal system….
                    "On the other hand, the Tenth Amendment may itself pose a substantive limit on assumedly granted powers.  Even if modern developments permit (or require) expansion of congressional authority well beyond its eighteenth-century limits, such expansion cannot extinguish the `retained' role of the states as limited but independent sovereigns.  The Tenth Amendment thus may function as a sort of `fail-safe' mechanism:  Congress has broad power to regulate, and even to subject states to generally applicable federal laws, but the power ends when it reaches too far into the retained dominion of state autonomy." 

                    It is an obvious statement that must be made:  No government - federal, state, or local - are granted rights in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.  The Federal Government and the States were granted powers, and the rights of the people were recognized and preserved. 

                    James Madison, often called the Father of the Constitution explained in The Federalist No. 45:  "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government are few and defined.  Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite.  The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace negotiation, and foreign commerce; … The power reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state."

                    The Heritage Foundation argues that conservatives should cease their cries for "states' rights."  "Not only is it incorrect to speak of states' rights, but the expression was the rallying cry of segregationists.  Since no right-thinking conservative abides such arguments, let's just drop the term `states' rights' once and for all.
                    "If you're concerned about federal encroachments on state sovereignty or the erosion of federalism - as you should be - then speak of federal encroachments on state sovereignty or the erosion of federalism.  Or, of the need to restore limited constitutional gove3rnment, reinvigorate local self-government, decentralize power, and check the growth of out-of-control government.  With so many great formulations to choose from, why weaken the case for liberty by relying on `states' rights'?"   

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