States' Rights: A Constitutional Issue


By Alex Parrish

Why is it that we keep finding ourselves complaining about one aspect or another of the federal government?

Whether you are a democrat who can’t stop “decrying the injustices perpetrated” by the Bush administration, a republican who can’t find anything good to say about the current Obama administration or an independent who thinks they should all be thrown out of office, the people of this nation are sick and tired of their elected officials not representing them.

More and more, there is an outcry from the citizens of this nation for its federal government to be brought back under the controls and restraints set out by the Constitution of the United States of America. Our Founding Fathers had the good sense enough to engineer a system of checks and balances within the federal government, as well as dictating that the actual power in this country would lay with “We the People”, not congressional committees and special interest groups. But what can we, the people, really do about it?

As it turns out, “We the People” have a lot more power than we have been led to believe by those in power over us, as well as by the ones supposedly watching those in power. It is unfortunate that the average person today does not know what their actual rights are as laid out in the Constitution of the United States. If they did, things would never have been allowed to get to this stage. And, as evidenced by the uproar caused by the Tea Parties occurring around the country, there are many who are not happy about the fact that “We the People” are starting to wake up and realize their true power.

Currently, at least 35 states have gone to the extent of introducing legislation which would reassert their constitutionally allowed powers as indicated in Amendment X of the Constitution of the United States[1]. There it says that those powers not previously delegated to the federal government in the Articles of the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people. The people, through their state legislatures, are beginning to send a forceful message to Washington: “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!”

Recently, Judge Andrew Napolitano wrote an enlightening article for called How to Curtail the Federal Beast[2]. In it, he discussed this dilemma: How can “We the People” reduce the power of the bloated federal government and return control of this country back to its citizens? He proposed an excellent idea, one which I had been ruminating on a bit myself. The Constitution can be amended to force the government back into the boundaries of control dictated by Article I Section 8 of the Constitution. He also suggested that we need to repeal Amendment XVI, which gave the federal government the power to tax income. And, the Constitution has the provisions built into it in Article V for the People of the States to force the consideration of these new Amendments.

What I find really interesting about this idea is that the process to make this happen is actually not as difficult as some would think. In Article V, the Constitution says that you need two-thirds of both houses to propose an amendment to the Constitution. Not exactly an easy situation, I agree. However, it also says that two-thirds of the states agreeing can call for a Constitutional Convention where the amendments can be introduced, and they only need a simple majority (50% + 1) to come to this agreement. That is only 34 states and already there are at least 35 that are introducing legislation to challenge the federal government’s power.

Now, in truth, I do not know if convening a Constitutional Convention is such a great idea. Anything could happen and that may not be in the best interests of the country. However, the threat of a Convention might be enough to force the federal government into acting and because of the pressure from the people that action should be in line with the will of the people. In the Judge’s article he implies that the actual Convention may not happen but the threat of it will force the government into concessions. And, Glenn Beck states, as I mentioned previously, that the Convention would be a bad idea and that we should push forward with other methods for enforcing the 10th Amendment.

I am not in total agreement here. I think we, the people, should push to get the amendments accepted and proposed by Congress by using the threat of a Constitutional Convention. Then, once they have sent the amendments to the states for consideration, it will only require a simple majority in 38 state legislatures to approve them (remember, at least 35 states are already moving to enact similar legislation) and at that point the Amendments become ratified into the Constitution.

It is time for “We the People” to take back control of our government and begin the process of steering a course back into the path our Founding Fathers had intended for our country to go on. This country was designed for its citizens to be involved in its governing. Not some select few who think “they know better”, but ALL of us. We need to start taking responsibility for the course the country is heading in because, to a certain extent, we allowed it to happen.

It is time for the vocal minority to be drowned out by the disenfranchised majority, who represent the true nature of this country; the greatest country in the world – Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. America is still the land of opportunity and hope. It is still the place where Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness are foundations we can build upon. And where “We the People” have more power than any governmental agency, political party or ideological organization.


1. Osborne, James; “Tenth Amendment Movement Aims to Give Power Back to the States”;, 26 May 2009;; 26 May 2009.

2. Napolitano, Judge Anthony; “How to Curtail the Federal Beast”;, 15 May 2009;; 26 May 2009.


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