Saturday, July 11, 2009

States Rights and Human Rights, Where Did They Go?

Walter Williams on the oft-trampled upon ninth and tenth amendments:

Alexander Hamilton expressed his reservation in Federalist Paper No. 84, "(B)ills of rights ... are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous." Hamilton asks, "For why declare that things shall not be done (by Congress) which there is no power to do?

Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given (to Congress) by which restrictions may be imposed?" Hamilton's argument was that Congress can only do what the Constitution specifically gave it authority to do. Powers not granted belong to the people and the states. Another way of examining Hamilton's concern: Why have an amendment prohibiting Congress from infringing on our right to picnic on our back porch when the Constitution gives Congress no authority to infringe upon that right in the first place?

To mollify Hamilton and James Madison, the ninth and tenth amendments were added. Of course, these are the same amendments that Congress has ignored for decades.

...the Ninth Amendment was added that reads: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." In essence, the Ninth Amendment says it's impossible to list all of our God-given or natural rights. Just because a right is not listed doesn't mean it can be infringed upon or disparaged by the U.S. Congress. The Tenth Amendment is a reinforcement of the Ninth saying, "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." That means if a power is not delegated to Congress, it belongs to the states of the people.

In a very recent action, Congress is attempting to expand the Clean Water Act to give the Army Corps of Engineers even more control over wetlands presently under the jurisdiction of states and local governments. Local governments are not happy. Property owners also... The new expansion of powers could even have the Feds controlling the water in your commode.

Is this the type of government Hamilton and Madison envisioned? An all powerful centralized federal government continually expanding its power at the expense of local governments?

Read the Federalist Papers.

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