The Tenth Amendment in a Different Light


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.


     The Tenth Amendment has gotten a bad rap over the years. It is often associated with enabling slavery and discrimination. This is wrong. The Tenth Amendment should be associated with accelerating the end of slavery and discrimination. It does not enable states to keep discriminatory practices, after ending them on the federal level. The Tenth Amendment enables states to end discriminatory practices, before ending them on the federal level and helps create the momentum, necessary to end them nationwide.

    It is important to note that the North never tried to abolish slavery nationwide, before the Civil War. They profited as much or more from slavery than the South did. Tariffs and trade restrictions were passed to force the South to only trade with the North, so that the North could buy cotton cheap and sell goods at a high price, without foreign competition. The Emancipation Proclamation was two Executive Orders that were not legally enforceable. It was a PR move near the end of the war for international support, because although their motives were despicable, the Confederacy was technically correct in its actions and the rest of the world did not really care about slavery. The North was losing international support for its illegal war so Lincoln reframed it as a noble cause to regain support. It worked and he had to follow through. After the war, the South was forced at gunpoint to ratify the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, because the North did not have enough votes to do it alone. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, not the Emancipation Proclamation.

     Before the Civil War, there was no federal law against slavery and not enough support to enact one. If not for the Tenth, slavery would have been legal nationwide. Whether or not new states would be free, slave, or self-determined was one of the major issues that led to the Civil War. The North wanted all new states to be free and the South wanted them to be self-determined. Without the Tenth, they would all be slave states. That would leave one less motivation for secession. That, alone, would not have prevented the Civil War, but it would have at least delayed it, and without any free states, at all, national abolition would not be able to gain as much momentum. If the Civil War was delayed long enough, it may not have ever happened. Imagine how many years it would have taken to pass something equivalent to the Thirteenth Amendment without the Civil War and remember that slavery would have been legal nationwide the entire time.

    The Fourteenth Amendment drastically increased the powers delegated to the United States by the Constitution. Before Brown v. Board of Education (1954), segregation was federally approved. Local desegregation would have been difficult, if not impossible, without the local control allowed by the Tenth Amendment. For the next ten years, the Fourteenth Amendment was ignored, for the most part. Brown v. Board should have ended segregation, nationwide, but did not. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 brought the Fourteenth Amendment to the front of the controversy. Segregationists began arguing that the Tenth Amendment allowed local segregation, but they were wrong and shame on you if you believe them. The Tenth Amendment does not allow local segregation, because the issue is delegated to the United States by the Constitution in the Fourteenth Amendment and Brown v. Board ended segregation on the federal level.

    Currently, marriage is not delegated to the United States by the Constitution. People, who mistakenly believe that Congress would support gay marriage, wish it were. That would be a mistake. Gay marriage needs to be approved by individual states, until enough states serve as an example to the rest of the country. This will create momentum for the movement and prove that its opponents' fears are baseless. Without States' Rights, there would be endless bickering based on opinions of "what ifs", and no gay marriage would be allowed anywhere, until liberty, eventually prevails.

    Do not hate States' Rights and the Tenth Amendment just because some hateful people did not understand what was and was not delegated to the United States by the Constitution. Embrace them as a tool for freedom and change. Do not let the hate and ignorance of others guide your opinions and lead you to your own hate and ignorance. Be informed about how the Tenth Amendment truly affects civil rights. Nearly every atrocity blamed on the Tenth Amendment was, in fact, ended by it.