Tag Archive for ‘Federalism’

Federalism and the Constitution

The tenth amendment of the United States Constitution:

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 restricts the powers of the federal government to only what is specifically afforded to them in the Constitution. Everything else is given to the states or to the people.

Like it or not, that is the law.

If you believe we should expand the powers of the federal government to additional issues, you must amend the Constitution. That is a high bar, of course. But it should be. Our natural rights shouldn’t be so easily altered by the whims of a simple majority in the legislature. It should require far more broad support across the population of an overwhelming majority of states.

Anything that is unable to obtain such broad support should be handled more locally. And that’s a good thing. This will limit the number of people that are living under laws that are incompatible with their lives and allow for a competition-of-sorts among the states to find the best balance.

Each state can take a different approach to the same issue and we can all learn from it, adapt, and slowly improve over time. In some cases we may find that we all eventually reach a similar conclusion. And at that point, this broad support may mean that a constitutional amendment is possible.

But on other issues, we may always have wildly different opinions about what is best. And in those instances, the states should continue to handle such matters.

This is federalism and it is foundational to our republic.

I’ve quoted text from the Constitution a time or two because I don’t think enough people have actually read it and very few understand it. But it’s an incredible document and, despite its age, is a fairly easy read — it wasn’t written for the time, it was written to stand the test of time.

If you’ve never read the United States Constitution, I would encourage you to do so. Especially if you’re a citizen of this country. I have a few copies from the Cato Institute that include the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in a single, pocket-sized book. I keep one in my desk drawer and find myself getting it out every month or two to reference the exact text of amendments.

I am, by no means, an expert on the subject. But I’m doing my best to learn what I can to better understand how my government functions. And that all starts with our foundational document. I think we as citizens would have more respect for one another and could shrink the divide in this nation if we took a little time to study it once in a while.