Could 2010 bring a resurgence in the importance of the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, after it spent most of the 20th century in relative obscurity? At least one group that studies Constitutional governance thinks so.
According to Michael Boldin, founder of the Tenth Amendment Center,a Los Angeles-based think tank, “With people looking to resist D.C. through state laws on everything from national health care to medical marijuana, the 10th Amendment appears ready to be front and center in the national debate once again this year.”
The Tenth Amendment states, “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.” It is an encapsulation of the principle of federalism, reserving much sovereignty for states and individuals.
“Already, over a dozen states are considering laws or state constitutional amendments that would effectively ban, or nullify, any proposed national health care plan in their state, and we expect that number to reach at least twenty in 2010,” said Boldin. “In conjunction with 20+ states that have already said ‘No’ to the Bush-era Real ID act, another dozen or more considering state laws to nullify federal gun laws, and the steady growth of states refusing to comply with federal marijuana laws, some might consider what we see today to be an unprecedented state-level rebellion to the federal government.”
This nonviolent “rebellion” is based upon the traditional (yet long neglected) principal of nullification. By nullifying a federal law, a state declares that law to be null and void within that particular state. “Nullification has been used to stand up for free speech, resist the fugitive slave laws, reduce tariffs and more,” explains Boldin. “It’s a peaceful and effective way to resist the federal government, and might be our only hope for moving towards the constitution.”
In addition to the many state government efforts to proclaim sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment or to nullify various federal laws, Tenth Amendment rallies are planned in at least 10 states in January.
With so much activity afoot, 2010 may indeed be the year of the Tenth Amendment.
- 10 Questions with TAC Founder Michael Boldin
- The Growing Movement to Nullify Nat’l Health Care
- The Great Debate, Part 1: The General Welfare Clause
- The Great Debate, Part 2: The Commerce Clause
- The Great Debate, Part 3: What Now?