tenth-amendment-summitFor the first time in perhaps generations, the people of the states are demonstrating their disgust with the actions, policies, principles, and philosophies of the federal government. People who have attempted to change Washington, D.C., by playing by “their rules” have reached an end to that game of charades. To many, it has become all too clear that controlling the federal government through the three branches of the federal government alone is insufficient.

In Federalist Paper 48, James Madison warned:

Will it be sufficient to mark, with precision, the boundaries of these departments, in the constitution of the government, and to trust to these parchment barriers against the encroaching spirit of power?… The conclusion which I am warranted in drawing from these observations is, that a mere demarcation on parchment of the constitutional limits of the several departments, is not a sufficient guard against those encroachments which lead to a tyrannical concentration of all the powers of government in the same hands. (Emphasis added.)

What is a sufficient guard? The Founding Fathers actually incorporated myriad guards into the new federal system of government: They not only crafted a system of checks and balances among the three branches of the federal government — equipping each branch with means to check encroachments by another branch — they also perserved states rights, opting for a “compound republic” as opposed to a “single repubic” as Madison explained in Federalist Paper 51:

In a single republic, all the power surrendered by the people is submitted to the administration of a single government; and the usurpations are guarded against by a division of the government into distinct and separate departments. In the compound republic of America, the power surrendered by the people is first divided between two distinct governments, and then the portion allotted to each subdivided among distinct and separate departments. Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people. The different governments will control each other, at the same time that each will be controlled by itself.

Many Americans who want to return the federal government to its constitutional moors are redisovering the truth that the states are not provinces or political subdivisions of the federal government but are themselves republics and possess sovereignty as acknowledged and confirmed by the Tenth Amendment in the U.S. 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.” Put simply, the states can reassert their sovereignty to rein in a runaway federal government!


Timothy Baldwin
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