I was recently invited to speak at the Nashville, Tenn., rally against Common Core on the national protest day. What I told that audience is worth repeating.

Common Core is not wrong because of what it teaches (emphasis original).

Suppose for a moment that Ted Cruz had been POTUS for the last five years. Now, suppose President Cruz wants to push Common Core. However, instead of pushing Common Core with liberal values, President Cruz pushes Common Core with the following paradigms.

  • Every child in each state must be trained on how to use a rifle by the age of 10
  • Every child in each state must study only Austrian economics
  • Every child in each state must take mandatory bible study
  • Every child in each state must perform 100 hours of community service before graduating high school

I provided my audience this same hypothetical situation at the rally. I then asked them, “Now then– instead of being at this rally opposing Common Core, would you all be here supporting Common Core, as the liberals would be on the opposite side of the picket line, or would you be just as furious?”

Very few actually understood the illustration. A local journalist from NBC (who told me she opposed Common Core) was confused. She asked me, “Wait… Do you support Common Core, or are you against it?”

Another woman who worked with a conservative, freedom aligned national think tank approached me after the rally. She told me that she’d be interested in working with me on “some issues” (emphasis original). I laughingly asked, “Only some?” She replied, “Yes, the ones that our values align with.”

After providing what I thought was a fantastic speech against values and in favor of principles, it was clear that my words had fallen on deaf ears.

The confusion stems from America’s lack of understanding the difference between values and principles. Truth be told, if the above were paradigms of Common Core, the vast majority of conservatives, libertarians and even moderates would rally in support of the reform. Why? Because those values align with our own. However, because the current values being pushed through Common Core do not align, they rally against it.

But what about principle?

You see, Common Core isn’t wrong because of the values it teaches. Common Core is wrong because it is an unconstitutional, federal usurpation of power. In fact, it’s not even directly from the federal government, but a private initiative from the Gates Foundation used by the federal government to coerce states. It is the very same “gun to the head” that Chief Justice Roberts referred to in National Federation Of Independent Business v. Sebelius (Obamacare) regarding medicaid expansion coercion. Conservatives, libertarians, and moderates are all too in favor of such usurpation when it aligns with our values.

This is not only wrong, it is extremely dangerous.

Many libertarians champion the federal government banning GMOs. Conservatives favor the federal government banning gay marriage. Liberals favor the federal government banning everything– well except marijuana and abortions. This is all wrong. Where does the Constitution delegate these powers to the federal government? It doesn’t. Rallying for the feds to intervene here allows them to intervene anywhere. Why? Because you’ve abandoned the principle, which constrains them from doing so.

In Champion v. Ames, a conservative Court ruled that the selling of lottery tickets was “pollution” and therefore the federal government should have power to intervene. Since that ruling in 1903, the federal government has been able to take policing powers from the states because of a case, which was based on personal values, and not the principles of the Constitution. Liberals favored it because they knew it would allow the expansion of big government, and conservatives favored the ruling because it aligned with their values.

Justice Peckham in dissent:

“The power of the State to impose restraints and burdens on the persons and property in conservation and promotion of the public health, good order and prosperity is a power originally, and always belonging to the States, not surrendered by them to the General Government nor directly restrained by the Constitution of the United States, and essentially exclusive, and the suppression of lotteries as a harmful business falls within this power, commonly called of police.”

As Justice Peckham’s Champion v. Ames dissent illustrates, the principles of the Constitution embodied in the Tenth Amendment limit federal power to a few objects, leaving most to the states and the people. These are what we refer to as “policing powers”. Education, healthcare, welfare, pollution, intrastate commerce, laws, etc. are all powers belonging to the states. However, ruling on values destroyed the principles that constrained the federal government, and today we have the result of such misguided actions.

The is applicable to those on the right who oppose Common Core. We cannot oppose Common Core because it does not align with our values. We must oppose it because it violates this country’s principles. The pundits, journalists, etc. who report and commentate on Common Core only serve to further the disease. The commentary should end at Common Core being unconstitutional because it is not an explicit power delegated to Congress and therefore the Tenth Amendment is remedy.

Say Common Core was struck down because of the values it teaches, but was kept in place with neutral, or conservative values. Again, many would applaud this as victory. However, you’ve only picked off the flower off the weed. The roots continue growing ever deeper through the soil. This is no victory. For it is only a matter of time until someone strikes at the values again and replaces them with their own, thus growing the flower back.

Liberals need see the red flags in Common Core themselves. Today, the odds are in your favor. Tomorrow, they will not be. Yet, the mechanism is in place and conservatives will wield it so. I myself would struggle to not give in to such temptation of the “Ted Cruz Paradigm”. However, if  we give in, we need only do so knowing that we will never be able to call foul when we ourselves have given up on the principle, which keeps such foul play at bay to push our values where they do not belong.

Our motto to one another should not be, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” The only result of such logic is one will consistently lose. The odds will always be in everyone’s favor when we rule by our principles within the Constitution and not our ever changing values.

Michael Lotfi

The 10th Amendment

“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.”



Featured Articles

On the Constitution, history, the founders, and analysis of current events.

featured articles


Tenther Blog and News

Nullification news, quick takes, history, interviews, podcasts and much more.

tenther blog


State of the Nullification Movement

232 pages. History, constitutionality, and application today.

get the report


Path to Liberty

Our flagship podcast. Michael Boldin on the constitution, history, and strategy for liberty today

path to liberty


Maharrey Minute

The title says it all. Mike Maharrey with a 1 minute take on issues under a 10th Amendment lens. maharrey minute

Tenther Essentials

2-4 minute videos on key Constitutional issues - history, and application today


Join TAC, Support Liberty!

Nothing helps us get the job done more than the financial support of our members, from just $2/month!



The 10th Amendment

History, meaning, and purpose - the "Foundation of the Constitution."

10th Amendment



Get an overview of the principles, background, and application in history - and today.