Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and part of the Bill of Rights that reserves for the states those powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution.
The Tenth Amendment protects the reserved powers
James Wilson was among the delegates at Virginia's ratifying convention who argued that the Tenth Amendment was unnecessary because its provisions were already inherent in the Constitution.
Opposition to and suspicion of the proposed Constitution on the grounds that it would infringe on the privileged status of the states was widespread. The defenders of state authority viewed the states as the repository of reserved power, and many believed that states were invested with an equal capacity to judge infractions against the federal government. In the Virginia ratifying convention, George Nicholas and Edmund Randolph, members of the committee reporting the instrument of ratification, noted that the Constitution would have only the powers “expressly” delegated to it. If Federalists disagreed with the stress on state authority, they generally viewed a reserved power clause as innocuous, and Madison included such a provision among the amendments he introduced in 1789.
In the First Congress, Elbridge Gerry, a Founder and Antifederalist elected to the House of Representatives, introduced a proposal reminiscent of the Articles of Confederation, leaving to the states all powers “not expressly delegated” to the federal government. Gerry’s proposal was defeated, in part because of concerns about the similarity between the language of his amendment and that of the articles.
Others who took a states’ rights
Defenders of the federal government, sometimes described as nationalists or loose constructionists, argued that Congress must assume more power if the needs of the country were to be met. Most prominent among the advocates of increased federal authority was Hamilton. For Hamilton, the Tenth Amendment was unnecessary as the political order already protected states. The Constitution, according to the nationalists, already contained provisions for the exercise of federal power, including the necessary and proper clause and supremacy clause.
The Supreme Court addressed the controversy in McCulloch v. Maryland
With the Civil War and Reconstruction, the authority and influence of the federal government were greatly increased. The role of the Tenth Amendment was essentially disregarded as federal troops occupied southern states and Congress provided governance. The authority of the states continued to suffer, resulting in part from a series of Court decisions in the twentieth century. In Champion v. Ames
Although Stone dismissed the amendment, continued authentication of its importance can be seen in Fry v. United States
Berger, Raoul. Federalism: The Founders’ Design. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987. Calhoun, John C. “A Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States.” In Union and Liberty: The Political Philosophy of John C. Calhoun, edited by Ross M. Lence. Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Fund, 1992. Hickok, Eugene W., Jr. “The Original Understanding of the Tenth Amendment.” In The Bill of Rights, edited by Hickok. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1991. Killenbeck, Mark R., ed. The Tenth Amendment and State Sovereignty: Constitutional History and Contemporary Issues. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. Lofgren, Charles A. “The Origins of the Tenth Amendment, History, Sovereignty, and the Problems of Constitutional Intention.” Constitutional Government in America, edited by Ronald K. L. Collins. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 1980. McAffee, Thomas, and Jay Bybee. Powers Reserved for the People and the States: A History of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2006. Nagel, Robert F. The Implosion of American Federalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Noonan, John Thomas. Narrowing the Nation’s Power: The Supreme Court Sides with the States. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.
Articles of Confederation
Bill of Rights
Champion v. Ames
Constitutional amendment process
Darby Lumber Co., United States v.
McCulloch v. Maryland
Printz v. United States
States’ rights and state sovereignty