Bill of Rights – Tenth Amendment – Powers Reserved for the States

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, or Amendment X of the United States Constitution is the section of the Bill of Rights that basically says that any power that is not given to the federal government is given to the people or the states. The Tenth Amendment of the Bill of Rights put into the United States Constitution on September 5, 1789 and was voted for by 9 out of 12 states on December 15, 1791.

The Tenth Amendment helps to define the concept of federalism, the relationship between Federal and state governments. As Federal activity has increased, so too has the problem of reconciling state and national interests as they apply to the Federal powers to tax, to police, and to regulations such as wage and hour laws, disclosure of personal information in recordkeeping systems, and laws related to strip-mining.

Today, the Tenth Amendment is often thought of as something very obvious or self-evident. In a 1931 Supreme Court case, the justices said that the Tenth Amendment did not really add anything new to the United States Constitution. Sometimes, local or state governments try to say that they do not have to follow some federal laws because of the Tenth Amendment. 

In the Supreme Court, there have been very few cases that use the Tenth Amendment to call a law unconstitutional. The only times the Court has done this is in situations where the Federal government forces a state to follow their laws. However, in 1996, a Justice said that Congress can try to make a state follow a law by setting certain laws that may involve commerce or spending power, but Congress cannot force a state to follow federal laws.

  • The Tenth Amendment was introduced to the U.S. Constitution by James Madison.
  • The Tenth Amendment is a good example of a part of the Constitution that talks about federalism, which is a type of government that is split up into different governing sections.
  • The Tenth Amendment was supposed to help limit Congress’s powers, by preventing any un-enumerated rights, but instead it resulted in more uncertainty about uncertainty about their rights. 

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