Insurrections often are propagated upon misinformation. So too are the most recent band of domestic terrorist who like to hide behind our most sacred American institutions. In this series, I want to explore the Bill of Rights and why some of the hype and hyperbole thrown around by the extremist is not just wrong but dangerously misguided.
Over the next several weeks, I will discuss the history of our constitutionally protected rights and why Congress chose to codify these and not others. I am not an attorney so I will not go into some of the legal aspects of these amendments, so please don’t ask me if your religious obsession for cordite is protected by Amendment 1 or Amendment 2. I plan to focus on why these amendments exist.
Today, I want to discuss part of Amendment 9 and 10:
When the U.S. Constitution was submitted to the states in 1787, it was still strongly opposed by the Anti-Federalist Party. One of their objections to the Constitution was its omission of a list of rights specifically granted to the people — a “bill of rights.” The Federalist Party contended that it would be impossible for such a bill of rights to list all conceivable rights, and that a partial list would be dangerous because some might claim that because a given right was not specifically listed as protected, the government had the power to limit or even deny it. The Virginia Ratifying Convention proposed a compromise in the form of a constitutional amendment stating that any future amendments limiting the powers of Congress should not be taken as justification for expanding those powers. This proposal led to the creation of the Ninth Amendment.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people
Another key objection of the Antifederalist is that this new constitution eroded the powers vested in state legislatures to make laws beneficial to the people of their state. Madison (a staunch Federalist!) wrote the Tenth Amendment to help the states understand that powers not specifically granted to the United States by the Constitution were retained by the states. He this would allay the fear that the new national government might either try to apply powers not listed in the Constitution or to limit the states’ ability to regulate their own internal affairs.
As James Madison said during the U.S. Senate’s debate on the amendment, “Interference with the power of the States was no constitutional criterion of the power of Congress. If the power was not given, Congress could not exercise it; if given, they might exercise it, although it should interfere with the laws, or even the Constitutions of the States.” Madison actually considered the 10th Amendment superfluous or unnecessary but many Senators expressed their eagerness and intent to ratify it.
Interestingly, the phrase “… or to the people,” was not a part of the 10th Amendment as it was originally passed by Senate. Instead, it was added by the Senate clerk before the Bill of Rights was sent to the House or Representatives for its consideration.
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
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