After the House of Representatives’ reading last week, the Constitution is suddenly the talk of the town. Congressmen and women on both sides of the aisle are eager to display the latest “must-have accessory” – their pocket Constitutions. This renewed interest goes beyond simply reading the document; people actually want to understand and apply it. One section that deserves such detailed attention is the Tenth Amendment.
The words of the Tenth Amendment are unambiguous: “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.” This sentence, indeed, effectively summarizes the entire Constitution, and the idea of a limited government with specific, enumerated powers. Its place at the end of the Bill of Rights serves as a safeguard against the possible intrusion of federal authority, and thus fills a crucial role in the document as a whole.
The third installment of Heritage’s new Constitutional Guidance for Lawmakers series, “The Constitution in One Sentence: Understanding the Tenth Amendment”, illustrates the structural importance of the Tenth Amendment, and how it “acts as a bulwark against federal intrusion on state authority and individual liberty”.