Federalism in the United States, also referred to as the doctrine of shared sovereignty, is the constitutional division of power between U.S. state governments and the federal government of the United States. Since the founding of the country, and particularly with the end of the American Civil War, power shifted away from the states and towards the national government. The progression of federalism includes dual, state-centered, and new federalism.
Federalism was a political solution for the problems with the Articles of Confederation which gave little practical authority to the federal government. For example, the Articles allowed the Continental Congress the power to sign treaties and declare war, but it could not raise taxes to pay for an army and all major decisions required a unanimous vote.
The movement was greatly strengthened by the reaction to Shays' Rebellion of 1786–1787, which was an armed uprising of yeoman farmers in western Massachusetts. The rebellion was fueled by a poor economy that was created, in part, by the inability of the federal government to deal effectively with the debt from the American Revolutionary War. Moreover, the federal government had proven incapable of raising an army to quell the rebellion, so that Massachusetts had been forced to raise its own.
In 1787, fifty-five delegates met at a Constitutional convention in Philadelphia and generated ideas of a bicameral legislature (United States Congress), balanced representation of small and large states (Great Compromise), and checks and balances. James Madison stated in a long pre-convention memorandum to delegates that because "one could hardly expect the state legislatures to take enlightened views on national affairs", stronger central government was necessary. This convention almost immediately dropped its original mandate and instead set about constructing a new Constitution of the United States. Once the convention concluded and released the Constitution for public consumption, the Federalist movement became focused on getting the Constitution ratified.
The most forceful defense of the new Constitution was The Federalist Papers, a compilation of 85 anonymous essays published in New York City to convince the people of the state to vote for ratification. These articles, written by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, with some contributed by John Jay, examined the benefits of the new, proposed Constitution, and analyzed the political theory and function behind the various articles of the Constitution. The Federalist Papers remain one of the most important sets of documents in American history and political science.
Those opposed to the new Constitution became known as the Anti-Federalists. They generally were local rather than cosmopolitan in perspective, oriented to plantations and farms rather than commerce or finance, and wanted strong state governments and a weak national government. according to political scientist James Wilson]] the Antifederalists:
Because George Washington lent his prestige to the Constitution and because of the ingenuity and organizational skills of its proponents, the Constitution was ratified by all the states. The outgoing Congress of the Confederation scheduled elections for the new government, and set March 4, 1789 as the date that the new government would take power. In 1789, Congress submitted twelve articles of amendment to the states. Ten of these articles, written by congressional committees, achieved passage on December 15, 1791 and became the United States Bill of Rights. The Tenth Amendment set the guidelines for federalism in the United States.
As soon as the first Federalist movement dissipated, a second one sprang up to take its place. This one was based on the policies of Alexander Hamilton and his allies for a stronger national government, a loose construction of the Constitution, and a mercantile (rather than agricultural) economy. As time progressed, the factions which adhered to these policies organized themselves into the nation's first political party, the Federalist Party, and the movement's focus and fortunes began to track those of the party it spawned.
While the Federalist movement of the 1780s and the Federalist Party were distinct entities, they were related in more than just a common name. The Democratic-Republican Party, the opposition to the Federalist Party, emphasized the fear that a strong national government was a threat to the liberties of the people. They stressed that the national debt created by the new government would bankrupt the country, and that federal bondholders were paid from taxes paid by honest farmers and workingmen. These themes resonated with the Anti-Federalists, the opposition to the Federalist movement of the 1780s. As Norman Risjord has documented for Virginia, of the supporters of the Constitution in 1788, 69% joined the Federalist party, while nearly all (94%) of the opponents joined the Republicans. 71% of Thomas Jefferson's supporters in Virginia were former anti-federalists who continued to fear centralized government, while only 29% had been proponents of the Constitution a few years before. In short, nearly all of the opponents of the Federalist movement became opponents of the Federalist Party.
The movement reached its zenith with the election of John Adams, an overtly Federalist President. However, with the defeat of Adams in the election of 1800 and the death of Hamilton, the Federalist Party began a long decline from which it never recovered. What finally finished off the Federalist party was the Hartford Convention of 1814, in which five New England states gathered to discuss several constitutional amendments necessary to protect New England's interests in regard to the blockade of their ports by the British during the War of 1812. The threat of secession also was proposed during these secret meetings. Three delegates were sent to Washington, DC to negotiate New England's terms only to discover the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, ending the war with the British. The Federalists were then seen by many as traitors to the union.
The United States Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall played an important role in defining the power of the federal and state governments during the early 19th century. As the U.S. Constitution does not specifically define many dividing lines between the layers of government, the Supreme Court settled the issue in New York. The question was answered particularly in the cases, McCulloch v. Maryland and Gibbons v. Ogden, which broadly expanded the power of the national government.
Despite Chief Justice Marshall's strong push for the federal government, the court of his successor, Roger B. Taney (1835–1864), decided cases that favored equally strong national and state governments. The basic philosophy during this time was that the U.S. Government ought to be limited to its enumerated powers and that all others belonged to the states. Both the sixteenth and the seventeenth amendment bolstered the power of the national government, and divided state and federal power.
Following the Taney court and the rise of Dual federalism, the division of labor between federal, state, and local governments was relatively unchanged for over a century. Political scientist Theodore J. Lowi summarized the system in place during those years in The End of the Republican Era
Nevertheless, the modern federal apparatus owes its origins to changes that occurred during the period between 1861 and 1933. While banks had long been incorporated and regulated by the states, the National Bank Acts of 1863 and 1864 saw Congress establish a network of national banks that had their reserve requirements set by officials in Washington. During World War I, a system of federal banks devoted to aiding farmers was established, and a network of federal banks designed to promote home ownership came into existence in the last year of Herbert Hoover's administration. Congress used its power over interstate commerce to regulate the rates of interstate (and eventually intrastate) railroads and even regulated their stock issues and labor relations, going so far as to enact a law regulating pay rates for railroad workers on the eve of World War I. During the 1920s, Congress enacted laws bestowing collective bargaining rights on employees of interstate railroads and some observers dared to predict it would eventually bestow collective bargaining rights on persons working in all industries. Congress also used the commerce power to enact morals legislation, such as the Mann Act of 1907 barring the transfer of women across state lines for immoral purposes, even as the commerce power remained limited to interstate transportation—it did not extend to what were viewed as intrastate activities such as manufacturing and mining.
As early as 1913, there was talk of regulating stock exchanges, and the Capital Issues Committee formed to control access to credit during World War I recommended federal regulation of all stock issues and exchanges shortly before it ceased operating in 1921. With the Morrill Land-Grant Acts Congress used land sale revenues to make grants to the states for colleges during the Civil War on the theory that land sale revenues could be devoted to subjects beyond those listed in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. On several occasions during the 1880s, one house of Congress or the other passed bills providing land sale revenues to the states for the purpose of aiding primary schools. During the first years of twentieth century, the endeavors funded with federal grants multiplied, and Congress began using general revenues to fund them—thus utilizing the general welfare clause's broad spending power, even though it had been discredited for almost a century (Hamilton's view that a broad spending power could be derived from the clause had been all but abandoned by 1840).
During Herbert Hoover's administration, grants went to the states for the purpose of funding poor relief. The Supreme Court began applying the Bill of Rights to the states during the 1920s even though the Fourteenth Amendment had not been represented as subjecting the states to its provisions during the debates that preceded ratification of it. The 1920s also saw Washington expand its role in domestic law enforcement. Disaster relief for areas affected by floods or crop failures dated from 1874, and these appropriations began to multiply during the administration of Woodrow Wilson (1913–21). By 1933, the precedents necessary for the federal government to exercise broad regulatory power over all economic activity and spend for any purpose it saw fit were almost all in place. Virtually all that remained was for the will to be mustered in Congress and for the Supreme Court to acquiesce.
State government policies
Local government policies
Although Cooperative Federalism has roots in the civil war, the Great Depression marked an abrupt end to Dual Federalism and a dramatic shift to a strong national government. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policies reached into the lives of U.S. citizens like no other federal measure had. As the Supreme Court had rejected nearly all of Roosevelt's economic proposals, the president proposed the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 to add more members. The expansion of the Court along with a Democrat-controlled Congress would tilt Court rulings in favor of Roosevelt's policies. Lowi notes three Supreme Court cases that validated the shift in power:
The national government was forced to cooperate with all levels of government to implement the New Deal policies; local government earned an equal standing with the other layers, as the federal government relied on political machines at a city level to bypass state legislatures. The formerly distinct division of responsibilities between state and national government had been described as a "layer cake," but, with the lines of duty blurred, cooperative federalism was likened to a "marble cake" or a "picket fence." In cooperative federalism, federal funds are distributed through grants in aid or categorical grants which gave the federal government more control over the use of the money.
Another movement calling itself "New Federalism" appeared in the late 20th century and early 21st century. New Federalism, which is characterized by a gradual return of power to the states, was initiated by President Ronald Reagan (1981–89) with his "devolution revolution" in the early 1980s and lasted until 2001. Previously, the federal government had granted money to the states categorically, limiting the states to use this funding for specific programs. Reagan's administration, however, introduced a practice of giving block grants, freeing state governments to spend the money at their own discretion.
New Federalism is sometimes called "states' rights", although its proponents usually eschew the latter term because of its associations with Jim Crow and segregation. Unlike the states' rights movement of the mid-20th century which centered on the civil rights movement, the modern federalist movement is concerned far more with expansive interpretations of the Commerce Clause, as in the areas of medical marijuana (Gonzales v. Raich), partial-birth abortion (Gonzales v. Carhart), gun possession (United States v. Lopez), federal police powers (United States v. Morrison, which struck down portions of the Violence Against Women Act), or agriculture (Wickard v. Filburn).
Anti-Federalism was a late-18th century movement that opposed the creation of a stronger U.S. federal government and which later opposed the ratification of the 1787 Constitution. The previous constitution, called the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, gave state governments more authority. Led by Patrick Henry of Virginia, Anti-Federalists worried, among other things, that the position of president, then a novelty, might evolve into a monarchy. Though the Constitution was ratified and supplanted the Articles of Confederation, Anti-Federalist influence helped lead to the passage of the United States Bill of Rights.Article Four of the United States Constitution
Article Four of the United States Constitution outlines the relationship between the various states, as well as the relationship between each state and the United States federal government. It also empowers Congress to admit new states and administer the territories and other federal lands.
The Full Faith and Credit Clause requires states to extend "full faith and credit" to the public acts, records and court proceedings of other states. The Supreme Court has held that this clause prevents states from reopening cases which have been conclusively decided by the courts of another state. The Privileges and Immunities Clause requires interstate protection of "privileges and immunities," preventing each state from treating citizens of other states in a discriminatory manner. The Extradition Clause requires that fugitives from justice be extradited on the demand of executive authority of the state from which they flee. Since the 1987 case of Puerto Rico v. Branstad, federal courts may also use the Extradition Clause to require the extradition of fugitives. The Fugitive Slave Clause requires the return of fugitive slaves; this clause has not been repealed, but it was rendered moot by the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery.
The Admissions Clause grants Congress the authority to admit new states, but forbids the creation of new states from parts of existing states without the consent of the affected states. The Supreme Court has held that the Constitution requires all states to be admitted on an equal footing, though the Admissions Clause does not expressly include this requirement. The Property Clause grants Congress the power to make laws for the territories and other federal lands. The Guarantee Clause mandates that United States guarantee that all states have a "republican form of government," though it does not define this term. Article Four also requires the United States to protect each state from invasion, and, at the request of a state, from "domestic violence."Article Six of the United States Constitution
Article Six of the United States Constitution establishes the laws and treaties of the United States made in accordance with it as the supreme law of the land, forbids a religious test as a requirement for holding a governmental position, and holds the United States under the Constitution responsible for debts incurred by the United States under the Articles of Confederation.Cooperative federalism
Cooperative federalism, also known as marble-cake federalism, is a concept of federalism in which federal, state, and local governments interact cooperatively and collectively to solve common problems, rather than making policies separately but more or less equally (such as the dual federalism of the 19th-century United States) or clashing over a policy in a system dominated by the national government.Dual federalism
Dual federalism, also known as layer-cake federalism or divided sovereignty, is a political arrangement in which power is divided between the federal and state governments in clearly defined terms, with state governments exercising those powers accorded to them without interference from the federal government. Dual federalism is defined in contrast to cooperative federalism ("marble-cake federalism"), in which federal and state governments collaborate on policy.Equal footing
The equal footing doctrine, also known as equality of the states, is the principle in United States constitutional law that all states admitted to the Union under the Constitution since 1789 enter on equal footing with the 13 states already in the Union at that time. The Constitution grants to Congress the power to admit new states in Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1, which states:
New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
Beginning with the admission of Tennessee in 1796, Congress has included in each state's act of admission a clause providing that it enters the Union "on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever". Before that, when Vermont was admitted in 1791, the act said Vermont was to be "a new and entire member" of the United States.Federalist Society
The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, most frequently called the Federalist Society, is an organization of conservatives and libertarians seeking reform of the current legal system of the United States in accordance with a textualist or originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Founded in 1982, it is one of the nation's most influential legal organizations.In January 2019, The Washington Post Magazine wrote that the Federalist Society had reached an "unprecedented peak of power and influence." Of the nine members of the Supreme Court of the United States, five (Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito) are current or former members of the organization. Politico Magazine wrote that the Federalist Society "has become one of the most influential legal organizations in history—not only shaping law students' thinking but changing American society itself by deliberately, diligently shifting the country's judiciary to the right."The organization, whose ideals include "checking federal power, protecting individual liberty and interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning", plays a central role in networking and mentoring young conservative lawyers. According to Amanda Hollis-Brusky, the author of Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution, the Federalist Society "has evolved into the de facto gatekeeper for right-of-center lawyers aspiring to government jobs and federal judgeships under Republican presidents." According to William & Mary Law School professor Neil Devins and Ohio State University professor Lawrence Baum, the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush "aimed to nominate conservative judges, and membership in the Federalist Society was a proxy for adherence to conservative ideology." The Federalist Society has played a key role in suggesting judicial nominees to President Donald Trump; it vetted President Trump's list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees and, as of January 2019, 25 out of 30 of President Trump's appellate court nominees were current or former members of the society.The society is a membership organization that features a student division, a lawyers division, and a faculty division. The society currently has chapters at more than 200 United States law schools. The lawyers division comprises more than 70,000 practicing attorneys (organized as "lawyers chapters" and "practice groups" within the division) in ninety cities. The society is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Through speaking events, lectures, and other activities, it provides a forum for legal experts of opposing views to interact with members of the legal profession, the judiciary, and the legal academy.Inland Waterways Commission
The Inland Waterways Commission was created by Congress in March 1907, at the request of President Theodore Roosevelt, to investigate the transportation crisis that recently had affected nation's ability to move its produce and industrial production efficiently. The immediate crisis centered on insufficient railroad capacity developed by the private sector, and competing but neglected inland shipping, the navigation of which had been deemed under federal purview since 1824. The temporary commission lasted until the end of Roosevelt's presidency, but his conservationist progressive interest was focused more than on transportation alone. The president wanted water projects to be considered for their multiple uses and in relation to other natural resources and asked for a comprehensive plan for the improvement and control of the river systems of the United States.
Based on long-established legislative structure and more recent bureaucratic additions, the appointed members of the commission included, elected Representative Theodore E. Burton (R OH), as chairman, being also chair of the House Committee on Rivers and Harbors; Senator Francis G. Newlands (D NV), as vice-chair; Senator William Warner (R MO), and Senator John H. Bankhead (D AL). Non-elected commissioners included government technocrats with experience in related fields, including Alexander Mackenzie, Chiefs of Engineers, US Army, and the entity involved in federal navigation improvements since the beginning; William John McGee, as secretary and from the United States Geological Survey; Frederick Haynes Newell, the first Director of the United States Reclamation Service; Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the United States Forest Service, and Herbert Knox Smith, from the Bureau of Corporations and predecessor to the Federal Trade Commission.
By the end of that year, after the commission had looked at shipping on the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes, a minority of its members concluded that the nation needed a comprehensive water resources policy along with an autonomous commission of experts to plan and construct water projects that embraced entire river basins. At the end of 1907, and before Roosevelt presented the commission's preliminary report to Congress in late February, Senator Newlands introduced the first bill to create a permanent commission. Over the next decade the subject of hydroelectricity would be closely studied, while Newlands drafted several more bills, with only an emasculated version becoming law in 1917. While supportive of the commission's report generally, most members of Congress considered Newlands's plan either impractical or unconstitutional. Three years later, Congress all but eliminated the hope of centralized water planning when it replaced the Inland Waterways Commission with the Federal Power Commission, following passage of the Federal Water Power Act of 1920.Laboratories of democracy
"Laboratories of democracy" is a phrase popularized by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann to describe how a "state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country." Brandeis was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939.
This concept explains how within the federal framework, there exists a system of state autonomy where state and local governments act as social "laboratories," where laws and policies are created and tested at the state level of the democratic system, in a manner similar (in theory, at least) to the scientific method. An example today would be the legalization of marijuana in Colorado despite the fact that it is illegal federally.
The Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that "all 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." This is a basis for the "laboratories of democracy" concept, because the Tenth Amendment assigns most day-to-day governance responsibilities, including general "police power", to the state and local governments. Because there are 50 semi-autonomous states, different policies can be enacted and tested at the state level without directly affecting the entire country. As a result, a diverse patchwork of state-level government practices is created. If any one or more of those policies are successful, they can be expanded to the national level by acts of Congress. For example, Massachusetts established a health care reform law in 2006 that became the model for the subsequent Affordable Care Act at the national level in 2010, or the various concealed carry state reciprocity agreements that motivated the subsequent federal Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017.New Federalism
New Federalism is a political philosophy of devolution, or the transfer of certain powers from the United States federal government back to the states. The primary objective of New Federalism, unlike that of the eighteenth-century political philosophy of Federalism, is the restoration to the states of some of the autonomy and power which they lost to the federal government as a consequence of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal.
As a policy theme, New Federalism typically involves the federal government providing block grants to the states to resolve a social issue. The federal government then monitors outcomes but provides broad discretion to the states for how the programs are implemented. Advocates of this approach sometimes cite a quotation from a dissent by Louis Brandeis in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann:
It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.
From 1937 to 1995, the Supreme Court of the United States did not void a single Act of Congress for exceeding Congress's power under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, instead holding that anything that could conceivably have even a slight impact on commerce was subject to federal regulation. It was thus seen as a (narrow) victory for federalism when the Rehnquist Court reined in federal regulatory power in United States v. Lopez (1995) and United States v. Morrison (2000).
The Supreme Court wavered, however, in Gonzales v. Raich (2005), holding that the federal government could outlaw the use of marijuana for medical purposes under the Commerce Clause even if the marijuana was never bought or sold, and never crossed state lines. How broad a view of state autonomy the Court will take in future decisions remains unclear. (See Gonzales v. Oregon)
Justice O'Connor dissented in Gonzalez, beginning her opinion by citing United States v. Lopez, which she followed with a federalist reference to Justice Louis Brandeis's dissenting opinion in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann.Perpetual Union
The Perpetual Union is a feature of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, which established the United States of America as a national entity. Under modern American constitutional law, this concept means that U.S. states are not permitted to overthrow the U.S. Constitution and withdraw from the Union.Reagan's Neshoba County Fair "states' rights" speech
As part of his 1980 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan made an appearance at the Neshoba County Fair where he gave a speech on August 3, 1980. Critics claim that Reagan's choice of location for the speech (the fairgrounds were about 7 miles from Philadelphia, Mississippi, a town associated with the murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner in 1964) was evidence of racial bias.
During his speech, Reagan said:
I still believe the answer to any problem lies with the people. I believe in states' rights. I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level, and I believe we've distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the Constitution to that federal establishment.
He went on to promise to "restore to states and local governments the power that properly belongs to them." The use of the phrase was seen by some as a tacit appeal to Southern white voters and a continuation of Richard Nixon's Southern strategy, while others argued it merely reflected his libertarian economic beliefs.Rohrabacher–Farr amendment
The Rohrabacher–Farr amendment (also known as the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer amendment) is legislation first introduced by U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey in 2001, prohibiting the Justice Department from spending funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws. It passed the House in May 2014 after six previously failed attempts, becoming law in December 2014 as part of an omnibus spending bill. The passage of the amendment was the first time either chamber of Congress had voted to protect medical cannabis patients, and is viewed as a historic victory for cannabis reform advocates at the federal level. The amendment does not change the legal status of cannabis however, and must be renewed each fiscal year in order to remain in effect.Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Seventeenth Amendment (Amendment XVII) to the United States Constitution established the popular election of United States Senators by the people of the states. The amendment supersedes Article I, §3, Clauses 1 and 2 of the Constitution, under which senators were elected by state legislatures. It also alters the procedure for filling vacancies in the Senate, allowing for state legislatures to permit their governors to make temporary appointments until a special election can be held.
The amendment was proposed by the 62nd Congress in 1912 and became part of the Constitution on April 8, 1913 on ratification by three-fourths (36) of the state legislatures. Sitting Senators were not affected by the Amendment's provisions until their existing terms expired, so the Amendment took six years to fully implement. The transition began with two special elections in 1913 and 1914 - the first in Maryland and the second in Alabama. The transition then began in earnest with the November 1914 election, and was complete on 4 March 1919 when the Senators chosen at the November 1918 election took office.Solomon–Lautenberg amendment
The Solomon–Lautenberg amendment is a U.S. federal law enacted in 1990, encouraging states to suspend the driver's license of anyone who commits a drug offense. A number of states passed laws in the early 1990s seeking to comply with the amendment, in order to avoid a penalty of reduced federal highway funds. These laws imposed mandatory driver's license suspensions of at least six months for persons committing a drug offense, regardless of whether any motor vehicle was involved. Although the amendment does contain a provision for states to opt out (without penalty), 9 states still had such laws in effect as of 2018.States' rights
In American political discourse, states' rights are political powers held for the state governments rather than the federal government according to the United States Constitution, reflecting especially the enumerated powers of Congress and the Tenth Amendment. The enumerated powers that are listed in the Constitution include exclusive federal powers, as well as concurrent powers that are shared with the states, and all of those powers are contrasted with the reserved powers—also called states' rights—that only the states possess.Symmetric federalism
Symmetric federalism refers to a federal system of government in which each constituent state to the federation possess equal powers. In a symmetric federalism no distinction is made between constituent states. This is in contrast to an asymmetric federalism, where a distinction is made between constituent states.Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Tenth Amendment (Amendment X) to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, was ratified on December 15, 1791. It expresses the principle of federalism and states' rights, which strictly supports the entire plan of the original Constitution for the United States of America, by stating that the federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the United States Constitution. All remaining powers are reserved for the states or the people.
The amendment was proposed by the 1st United States Congress in 1789 during its first term following the adoption of the Constitution. It was considered by many members as a prerequisite to many state ratifications of the Constitution and particularly to satisfy demands of Anti-Federalists who opposed the creation of a stronger federal government.
The drafters of this amendment had two purposes in mind: first, as a necessary rule of construction; and second, as a reaffirmation of the nature of federalism.Tenther movement
The Tenther movement is a social movement in the United States, the adherents of which espouse the political ideology that the Federal Government's enumerated powers must be read very narrowly to exclude much of what the Federal Government already does, citing the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in support of this. The text of the amendment reads:
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.
Despite the movement's assertions, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the Tenth Amendment such that the Amendment does not require a narrow interpretation of the Federal Government's enumerated powers. The Supreme Court affirmed this view in United States v. Darby Lumber, in which the Court stated that the Tenth Amendment "states but a truism that all [powers of the State Sovereign] is retained which has not been surrendered [by ratification of the Constitution and membership in the United States]". In summary, members of the Tenther Movement believe that the Tenth Amendment should be interpreted as requiring that the Federal Government's enumerated powers be construed narrowly. Supporters of the movement also believe that these Supreme Court rulings and the several States voluntary surrendering their powers is unconstitutional and because they violate Supremacy Clause and should be nullified.The Supreme Court, in contrast, interprets the Tenth Amendment as a default rule: in the absence of enumerated federal power, each state is the supreme sovereign of its own territory, but that this rule has no bearing on interpreting the scope of an enumerated federal power (e.g. the power to make uniform bankruptcy law).
United States articles