Sunday, February 28, 2010

Reviving sovereignty of the states ~ By Henry Lamb

I can always depend on great columns about Constitutional issues from Henry Lamb. Once again, he hasn't let me down. The protection of the Constitution is of utmost importance in preserving what freedom we have left. The First 10 Amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, was introduced by James Madison. The Bill of Rights was designed to "further clarify the authority and limitations of the federal government." Henry goes on to discuss the 10th Amendment in this column, which will help you understand the matter of States' sovereignty.

There is a growing effort in Western states to force the federal government to honor its constitutional limitation on land ownership and return to the states that which is rightfully theirs.
By Henry Lamb

Posted: February 27, 2010 ~ 1:00 am Eastern

© 2010

Is the federal government sovereign, with authority over state governments? Or, are individual state governments sovereign, with authority over the federal government? It's a simple question; it's the answer that's a problem.

The federal government exists because representatives of the states created it. This fact should provide a clue. The federal government was designed by representatives from the states in a document called the Constitution of the United States. The federal government became a reality when the Constitution was ratified by the ninth state, New Hampshire, on June 21, 1788. This infant government, created by the states, began operation March 4, 1789. From that day until this, people have been arguing over whether the federal government or the states possess the supreme authority.

It is quite clear that the people who designed the federal government intended it to be limited in its power. Article I, Section 8 sets forth 17 enumerated powers of the federal government. The first clause empowers the new government to "lay and collect taxes," to provide for the "defense and general welfare" of the United States. Here's where the argument gets nasty.

One group of people argues that the phrase "general welfare" means whatever Congress wants it to mean with no limitations. Another group of people argues that if this is what the designers intended, why on earth would they have bothered to enumerate the remaining 16 specific powers? It's a reasonable question that the first group prefers to ignore rather than answer.

To be sure that the federal government's authority stayed limited, the primary architect of the Constitution, James Madison, introduced the Bill of Rights in the very first Congress in 1789. These first 10 Amendments further clarify the authority and limitations of the federal government. The 10th Amendment, in particular, limits the federal government to those powers enumerated in the Constitution and explicitly reserves all other powers to the states and to the people.


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