Saturday, July 18, 2015

History of the 10th Amendment and how it applies today

Contributor article by Dan Wilson

In our next installment on the Bill of Rights, we’ll be addressing the 10th amendment. The foundation of the 10th amendment dates back to when the first settlers were just leaving England. As we know most left England in order to be able to Practice their own religion, instead of being forced to worship under the Church of England. Though some were leaving to escape the rule of the Monarchy over the entire nation of England. The new world held promises of more freedom. For a minority of the passengers, this was their driving force that provided a sound reason to give up everything and to face this extremely dangerous voyage.

During the first hundred years England was engaged in a territorial war with Spain and France to decide who would eventually have control of North America. The first to settle was the French who obtained control over Canada while England and Spain continued to fight for control over lands west of the Appellation Mountains.

Since England was involved with territorial disputes between England and Spain. The Colonies had been left to Govern themselves. Each Colony having their own governments had little in common with the other Colonies. This sense of independence was fiercely enforced. The one common interest all had was their resistance to British rule.

Knowing that no single colony had the ability to take on the British in an all-out attempt to achieve independence lead to a meeting of representatives from all colonies to decide on a way to proceed.

This led to the creation of the Colonial Government. Though it was little more than an agreement to fight the British together. By 1775 the Colonies agreed the only way to win their independence, was to declare a collective Declaration of Independence. By July 4th 1776 fifty four representatives from all thirteen colonies had signed the declaration  which was sent to King George III.

The Signing of the Declaration of Independence was the official creation of our Union. At this point the Colonies had no intention of creating a new country. Their only goal being the return to being self-governing, with as small of a centralized Government as possible.

On July 12, 1776 The Second Continental Congress was formed who would be the formal Government. Back in 1776 the term “Congress” was different than today, during this period in time congress meant representative, Thus the Second Continental Congress was viewed as a group of representatives from the thirteen Colonies.

By early 1777 the Second Continental Congress knew they needed a formal Constitution. A Panel was created by the congress to create The Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union. As with most documents created by autonomist states, there was much debate on how to work together without creating a centralized Government that could seize control over all of the States. The nation was in the midst of a Revolutionary war and they had no desire to win their independence from one Tyrannical Government only to create another one to take over. This is why they created a constitutional government that would have very little control over the autonomist states.

By the end of 1777 the Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union were complete and sent to the thirteen colonies for ratification. Even before the Articles of Confederation was ratified it gave The Continental Congress a means of directing the Revolutionary War. Article I establish the name of the Union to be called the United States of America. While Article II asserted that all States would maintain its Sovereignty and self-governing power. The remaining three articles ascertained an agreement of cooperation and friendship between the states with all legal citizens having the ability to move freely throughout the states. While the Federal Government would have very limited powers over the union.

By the end of the Revolutionary war it was apparent that the Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union was simply inadequate. Once again the Continental Congress created a panal of representatives to create a more suitable Constitution. As the representatives headed for the Constitutional Convention in 1778. None of the Representatives had intentions of creating a new Constitution, believing they would simply add what was needed to the Articles of Confederation where they could address the deficiencies of the existing Articles.

After a month of deliberations and arguments it became apparent that the Articles of Confederation could never meet the requirements needed to create a functional Union. This stalemate continued as the delegates fought over how to create a viable Constitution. This led the eldest statesman Benjamin Franklin to request that he could address the delegates of the convention.

Franklin was in his mid-eighties at the time as he addressed the delegates. His now famous address called for Prayer before every day of deliberations to be led by different members of the clergy. This address proved to be exactly what was needed.

The biggest concern in creating this new constitution was giving the Federal Government too much power. They had just fought a revolution to obtain their own sovereignty. So they had no desire to create a centralized Government who had too much power.

All of the delegates agreed that the Federal Government needed more power in order to provide for the needs of the United States but how much should be given before the states lost their sovereignty? The solution they believed was to create a series of checks and balances by distributing power between three separate branches within the Federal Government known as the executive, Judicial and legislative branches. With the states maintaining enough power to be able to govern themselves, and to decide what they deemed to be constitutional. By the end of the summer of 1778 they had completed the Constitution that would be sent to all thirteen States for ratification.

During the ratification convention several states had refused to ratify the constitution who feared the Federal Government held enough power to enable it to take control over the states and without amendments to address their concerns, they refused to ratify the Constitution. It was then agreed by all states to ratify the constitution with assurance that a bill of amendments would be included. Ratification of the Constitution went into effect in 1789.

As the ratification process continued by 1791 the Bill of Rights were created. Consisting of Ten Amendments that the Federal Government assured the Citizens of the United States to be undeniable rights that would ensure the rights of the people with the ability to be self-governing.

Out of the Bill of Rights, Thomas Jefferson called the tenth amendment the most essential of all amendments and that the entire constitution was created around this principle. The tenth amendment states that “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, while maintaining their power jurisdiction, and rights, that were not expressly covered in the Constitution.” Prior to the creation of the Bill of rights concerns over state sovereignty. Even though Federalist #45 submitted by James Madison on January 26, 1788. Where James Madison assured that a state’s sovereignty would not be violated. In addition the articles of confederation would act as a failsafe should State sovereignty ever was challenged.

Unfortunately in spite of all the attempts made by our forefathers to protect State sovereignty, the wording in the tenth amendment left too many areas that could be exploited by the Federal Government. At the time of the writing of the Bill of rights power was given to congress through Article VI Section II known as the supremacy clause. That stated the laws contained in the Constitution was the supreme Law of the land and the law shall rule even if it conflicts with State Laws.

The first attack on our States sovereignty came with the Alien and Sedition Act passed by congress in 1789. Both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison say claimed Government over-reach. Though debatable, this would prove to be the first of many attacks by the Federal Government on our 10th amendment. Of the three branches of Government, the Supreme Court has led the way in taking away our state’s sovereignty. Beginning with McCulloch vs. Maryland (1819). This case though in appearance does not seem unreasonable. This ruling would enable the Federal government to pass laws not expressly provided for in the Constitution's list of laws, provided those laws are in useful furtherance of the express powers of Congress under the Constitution. This single ruling paved the way for the Federal Government to essentially obtain supreme power over the entire government, including the constitution and Bill of Rights.

Though our forefathers did everything they could to ensure the Sovereignty of our States. It was the way the 10th amendment was worded that gave the Supreme Court a means to exploit that would give the Federal Government supreme power over the Constitution of the United States of America. Supreme Court justice John Marshal is therefore to blame for our states losing the power to self-govern.

Today not only is our 10th amendment rights in jeopardy due to this single ruling, the entire constitution along with the Bill of Rights and every subsequent amendment. Though the assured Sovereignty of the states can be argued by referring to the Articles of Confederation that clearly States that all of the States shall maintain their personal sovereignty. Federalist #45 also addresses this issue.

Until Congress is willing to address McCulloch vs. Maryland and rules that this case is in violation of the Constitution, the Federal Government will continue to eliminate our rights while dismantling The Constitution of the United States of America.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please keep an eye out for our next article on the Bill of Rights, when we will be taking a look at the 9th amendment. Again thank you for your time and may God Bless all of you, especially those who believe in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

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