How the 10th Amendment Limits Government

How the 10th Amendment Limits Government

( – The last of the Bill of Rights, the 10th Amendment specifically limits the power of the federal government. While some felt such a thing was implied already, others figured it best to be specific. This amendment is purely about preventing the federal government from exceeding its powers over state and personal rights.

“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.”

Law of the Land

The Constitution is more than just a historical document. Within it lies the law of the land, and none may come before it. That is to say, no state has the right to make any laws that violate those laid down by the Constitution. At the same time, the 10th Amendment prevents the federal government from overstepping and forcing laws of its own on states.

That doesn’t mean the federal government can’t make laws, but it does mean states can make ones that are different from federal laws. One example is marijuana use. The Constitution does not prohibit marijuana use, so the states can make laws to make it legal. Federal laws may differ from state laws, and federal officers may address violations of federal laws, but no one can force a state to take on a federal law, because of the 10th Amendment.

Policies and Conditions

Additionally, the federal government cannot force states to adopt policies that are not in the Constitution. In 1992, New York State filed suit against the United States government for trying to impose federal policies on the state. Of the three items involved, two were upheld and one was struck down. The policy that was struck down would have forced states to “take legal ownership” or “liability” for specific types of nuclear waste.

Federal funds also come into play under this amendment. If the federal government is forcing conditions, it cannot withhold funds that a state would normally receive. However, the federal government can provide states with incentives to receive funds. It’s largely a matter of wording when it comes down to it. This is how states become “eligible” for federal funding, and this is a necessary part of funding.

For instance, in order for states to get funding for education, they need to have schools that meet certain requirements. If they didn’t have schools, why would they need educational funding?

The same rules that apply to states also apply to people. No person can make a law or Executive order that violates the Constitution. In turn, the federal government cannot force a person to adopt a law that is outside the Constitution.

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