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The Tenth Amendment


United States Constitution
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Text of Amendment:

[blockquote shade=on]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.

Hey, Wait a Minute...:

You might be asking yourself: Doesn't this contradict the Ninth Amendment? Why state that the Constitution does not disparage unenumerated personal rights, then say that any powers not specifically laid out in the Constitution are reserved for the states?


When the Tenth Amendment was originally proposed, the Bill of Rights did not apply to the states; it applied only to federal law. States had their own constitutions and their own bills of rights. Some states also had slavery, which was protected under the Tenth Amendment. The American Civil War made it clear that this wasn't a workable system, so the Fourteenth Amendment extended the Bill of Rights and made it applicable to both state and federal law. For this reason, the Tenth Amendment, while still relevant, no longer holds as much power as it once did.

Tenth Amendment and Desegregation:

The last major Tenth Amendment battle took place as the result of 1960s civil rights legislation, which attempted to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment against Southern states that continued to impose second-class citizenship on black residents. Subsequently, most references to "state's rights" in the common political vernacular are actually veiled references to segregation--unfortunate, given that the question of federal vs. state's rights is a legitimate issue that the Supreme Court has been attempting to resolve for two centuries.
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