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rojo's avatar

What are your thoughts on Amendment X of the US Bill of Rights?

Asked by rojo (24179points) October 3rd, 2014

The Tenth Amendment reads:

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.

To me it appears that “the people” part was an afterthought. Like during the debate and discussion someone in the gallery stood up and yelled “What about the people?”
To which the framers responded “What? Who? Oh yes, yes, them too.”

What do you think?

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6 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

I Think the “for the people….” was there for the folks residing in places not yet states, but clearly U S territories.

talljasperman's avatar

In Canada women where not considered persons and could not vote until this century.

SavoirFaire's avatar

As it turns out, the “or the people” part was in fact an afterthought. It was written in by hand shortly before the amendment started circulating among the legislators considering it. This was perhaps to bring it in line with the Ninth Amendment, which was more explicitly meant to prevent anyone in the future from claiming that people only had those rights enumerated explicitly in the Constitution.

As for the meaning of the Tenth Amendment itself, it is a declaration of federalism: the federal government has only those powers given to it (expressly or implicitly) by the Constitution itself.* It is also an expression of the social contract theory that was underlying their thought process. Under this tradition, a state can only have those powers given to it by those who are party to the contract. Thus any powers not given to the federal government must be retained by the states. And those that do not belong to the state (or that cannot be held by states) must thereby belong to the people.**

* The Framers explicitly debated and rejected the notion that there are no implied powers.
** Which powers the people retain and which belong to the states is a matter of what the social contract at that level of society looks like.

ibstubro's avatar

I think the United States was a vast territory at the time, and the framers were acknowledging regional governments, i.e. as yet undeclared or potential states.

jerv's avatar

I think that this part of the Constitution is often twisted by the Uber-conservatives to “justify” some pretty vile laws enacted by red states, as well as those that defy federal precedent. Want to make an end-run around Roe v. Wade? Pass it as a state law, then wave the Tenth Amendment around as if it were holier than the Bible. Want to shoot Mexicans at the border and deport the ones that evade the gunmen and make it to into the US, but don’t want to worry about the Supreme Court striking down the laws that allow that? Wrap yourself in some Tenth Amendment sacrosanctity!

I don’t think the Tenth Amendment is a bad thing, merely one that seems to be getting misused abused a lot lately.

@talljasperman Same here. Blacks too.

JLeslie's avatar

I think when we read something written over 100 years ago we need to consider the language was different then and also consider what was happening at that time in history. I don’t have much opinion about the 10th Amendment, but since you opened the Q to Amendment X, I will put the 14th Amendment out there and say that I think Jus Soli should be re-examined by the US. Jus Soli basically means if you are born here you are a US citizen. I think probably we should modify this a little, although I go back and forth with it in my head. If I were born in Norway I would not expect to be a Norwegian citizen if my parents were Americans and happen to be in the country on a tourist Visa or illegally for that matter. However, I do think children raised here should have legal papers living here, just not necessarily citzens automatically. I won’t get into when I think automatic citizenship is warranted, I am only saying being born here possibly should not be automatic citizenship for everyone.

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