What is the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution?

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  • Written By: Matthew F.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2018
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The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution grants the states the powers not granted to the federal government. It was drafted in 1787 and ratified in 1791 with the rest of the Bill of Rights. This amendment limits the federal government to the powers expressly mentioned in the Constitution, and gives the states the freedom and power to govern all other matters. It combines with the Ninth Amendment to allay ambiguities in the rest of the Constitution.

Drawing on previous provisions of the Articles of Confederation, the amendment has often served as a tool for the states against the federal government. States have charged the government with interference in environmental and labor regulations, which the states say this amendment protects them from. These powers are not specifically given to the United States federal government by any amendments, and so should belong to the states, many argue.

The Tenth Amendment does not, however, strip the government's implied powers, which are granted under the necessary and proper clause of Article 1 of the Constitution. The federal government has often used the Supreme Court and their construction and interpretation of this clause to guarantee them certain rights not mentioned. These rights, claim supporters of the federal government, ought to be held by the national government because they are implied in their power, such as the administration of the military and the handling of foreign affairs and wars.


The federal government, though, does yield many powers to the states under the Tenth Amendment. Among these are concurrent powers, held by both levels of government, but implemented by states at a more focused level. In some of these cases, however, the federal government may intervene or overrule state powers, leading to further state protests that this amendment is being infringed.

The states have used the amendment in certain cases to repeal a law or decision handed down to them by federal authorities. Forced participation in a law has been challenged and reversed due to Supreme Court decisions, though it is one of the rarest Constitutional laws brought up in the Supreme Court. The Tenth Amendment has also been used more frequently in dealing with matters of commerce and federal funding. The federal government has used this amendment often to ensure economic regulations, where the states have done the same to effect uses of state and federal funding.


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Post 4

We will see what the Supreme Court says about obama care.

Post 3

The tenth amendment has already told us which rights belong to the federal government. It has not forgotten anything. All vital matters are already decided on by the government. Everything else belongs to the states.

If the government has decided to give itself additional powers not mentioned in the tenth amendment, it is doing something that is unconstitutional. There is no other way to put this.

The government was not doing this until the 19th century and everything was running just fine before. The economy and unemployment rates are just excuses. There is no reason for government intervention.

We need to make our voices heard and remind the government of it its rights which are clearly and perfectly described in the Constitution.

Post 2

I understand why some citizens are worried. It is true that the role of the federal government has been growing, especially in sectors like health and environment. Less is being left to the individual states to decide.

But I don't believe that this is intentional. I don't think that the government is trying to tromp over the tenth amendment and steal states' rights. The need for federal action on issues like health and environment have arose because we are facing serious problems in these areas.

The health care system is not working well, and greater precautions need to be taken for pollution and preservation of the earth. Unfortunately, leaving such important matters to individual states doesn't always fix the system that has endemic problems. The government is taking action for the benefit of all Americans in my view. I'm sure that it will leave it up to the states when it is time to do so.

Post 1

I think that the founders of the Constitution did not want an extremely powerful central government. They had lived under centrally powerful governments in Europe and saw the limits to freedom of speech and religion that was enforced by these governments. They did not want America to be the same way.

The tenth amendment was passed to prevent the federal government from becoming too large and too powerful.

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