Constitution Day is Thursday, 9/17 | Celebrate What Many Ignore

A big 10-4 for States’ Rights

America's Constitution is a landmark document that protects freedoms. Is our government still paying attention to the "powers not granted" part of the Tenth Amendment? (Photo:

America's Constitution is a landmark document that protects freedoms. Is our government still paying attention to the "powers not granted" part of the Tenth Amendment? (Photo:

As Constitution Day approaches this Thursday, September 17, some awake and aware teachers will consider Constitution Day activities for their students, write up Constitution Day lesson plans and make Constitution Day worksheets. Celebrating the set of principles that the founding fathers of America set forth to guard against the intrusion of tyrannical power into this country’s government is certainly an admirable thing to remember, as the U.S. Constitution continues to be a landmark document in human history.

And the fight against possible tyranny lives on

And that tyranny isn’t necessarily coming from the obvious sources some people might expect, such as the Taliban, North Korea or C Street House. On Constitution Day, some people will be celebrating what power the Constitution grants individual states, a power that some feel the federal government is ignoring. In particular, the Tenth Amendment will be in the spotlight on Constitution Day. To set the state, take a look at this Supreme Court ruling:

“The Tenth Amendment was intended to confirm the understanding of the people at the time the Constitution was adopted, that powers not granted to the United States were reserved to the States or to the people. It added nothing to the instrument as originally ratified.” — United States v. Sprague, 282 U.S. 716, 733 (1931).

Some states want America to return to governance via the Constitution

A press release by Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center suggests that America’s government has ignored that “powers not granted to the United States” portion of the Tenth Amendment. They have launched the “10-4 Candidate Pledge for the Constitution” in response to this. Their hope is that Constitution Day 2009 will energize and inform the people that regardless of their personal stance on the reforms the Obama administration is attempting to pass (including those that would excessively limit or ban pay day loan stores outright), it is believed there are certain areas of the law where individual states have the right to accept or nullify laws that come from the federal government.

In particular, there have been seven states so far in 2009 that have passed sovereignty resolutions under the 10th Amendment. Two states have nullified federal firearms regulation. In opposition to federal law, 13 states have enacted Medical Marijuana laws. In response to federal health care reform and the public option, three states are thinking about constitutional amendments that will allow their residents to opt-out of a federally controlled plan. Despite one’s personal opinions about President Obama’s plans, it’s difficult to argue that people should have the choice to go one way or the other. The Tenth Amendment Center (and numerous others) believe the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution grants states that power.

What is the 10-4 Pledge?

The 10-4 Pledge is 10 affirmations and promises behind which politicians may affix their stamp of approval. “All just political authority is derived from the People,” is one example. Another is that they will “always vote in favor of the Constitution of the United States. Every issue. Every time. No exceptions. No excuses.” The underlying theory here is that the Constitution is not in need of revision, but that the principles outlined remain relevant and hence should be followed in America’s current iteration of government. Politicians from Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas and other states have signed on; how many more will follow?

Fear of too much power

That’s the reason America’s founding fathers created the Constitution, and that is what supporters of the 10-4 Pledge fear today. Government without limits is what England threatened to hold over Americans in colonial times; 10-4 supporters feel that President Obama’s vision of the federal government’s role in certain affairs also represents such an government unlimited platform. “We the People” were intended to be represented by the Constitution. Boldin and the Tenth Amendment Center would like to keep it that way.

Their research indicates that somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 powers were granted to the federal government by the Constitution, which leaves some rather significant holdovers that individual states can rule upon, including health care, “creation of free speech zones,” federal gun regulation, the “war” on drugs and more.

Not left, not right – for all Americans

Some issues aren’t easy to resolve through national partisan politics. The 10-4 Pledge is intended to remind politicians (and the public) that some issues need to be resolved “close to home,” on the state level. But “that’s just the opposite of how things are today,” says Boldin. “People (should be able to) find candidates for office who believe in the strict limitations on power that the Constitution stands for.”

Any pay day loan company should take note

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A national government that is clearly in league with keeping Wall Street and the establishment healthy while largely ignoring the deepest financial needs of average people should drive people to question whether that’s the kind of governance they want. Constitution Day is a perfect opportunity to consider this, and the 10-4 Pledge could be a useful tool for those who feel that states should have the right to decide what works best for them when it comes to individual financial welfare – or anything else that plays a key role in individual freedom and welfare.

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