Once again I want to announce THE TENTH AMENDMENT will be the focus of our discussion this Saturday, January 12, at 11 a.m. at Big Hat Books, 6510 Cornell Avenue, in Broad Ripple. "Civil Discourse Now" is part of the "Indiana Talks" internet network. If you cannot attend, you can Tweet in questions. I will post "how" on that tomorrow.
Our guests will be:
Mike Maharrey of the Tenth Amendment Center. Their website (tenthamendmentcenter dot com) is well-constructed and informative about the organization. He is the organization’s communications director. He is a native of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and won two Kentucky Press Association Awards as a sports writer.
Karen Celestino-Horseman is a former Democratic Party member of the Indianapolis City-County Council and practices law in Indianapolis.
The Tenth Amendment provides:
"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 was considered by James Madison to be redundant and not necessary. Of course, both he and Alexander Hamilton believed the Bill of Rights to be unnecessary. They
argued if we list what the government cannot do, then by implication the government will claim it can do the rest.
At the time of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the governments of the individual states were considered by many to be plenary. In other words, the power of the individual state was full
and complete. An individual state could sponsor a particular religion, as perhaps nine did. An individual state could ban freedom of speech—as was argued during the disputes over the Sedition Act.
If the individual states were so powerful, how and why did Congress under the Articles of Confederation want to change matters?
As to "how," in its charter to the convention, Congress merely authorized that reforms be made to the Articles of Confederation. 73 delegates were chosen to attend the Convention. Only 57 attended, at one time or another. 37 were present at the final vote. The Convention did not simply reform the Articles, but scrapped it entirely for the Constitution.
"Why" changes were desired?
Expediency and necessity brought the changes. The central government was impotent under the Articles. Washington—the man, not our euphemism for the central government today—said that the 13 sovereignties pulling at the head would soon bring ruin to them all. Any measure to pass Congress required a 2/3 vote of the State delegations. An amendment to the Articles required a unanimous vote. Congress could not impose taxes, but only request funds from the states. There was no common currency. There was no standing army. England maintained forts on the Great Lakes even after the Treaty of Paris ended what we call the Revolutionary War. England knew we could do nothing. An American ambassador was taken hostage in Algeria (I believe) and $100 was demanded in ransom—which we could not pay. A strong, central government would mean these problems were less likely. The Convention delegates were white men who were, for the most part, rich. They saw the vast expanse to the West and knew they could make a lot of money—and this was before the Louisiana Purchase.
This raises other questions I shall address in tomorrow’s blog.