Posted in American History, essay, history, Politics

The Amendments: Nine & Ten

The 9th and 10th amendments, the last of the 1791 Bill of Rights, deal with similar concepts.  Mainly relations to rights not expressly listed by the Bill of Rights

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. (source)

This basically says they realise that the rights in the bill of Rights was not complete, that there are rights held by the people not listed and that the government can’t say “Well, its not mentioned, so you don’t have it.”

I’m sure this gets argued often enough.  It also allows for amendments to be added as times change and new problems come to the surface about various rights that should be self-evident but apparently need it bolded for some people to get.

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. (Source)

This amendment gives powers to the States.  During the foundation of this nation, there was a big argument over whether the Federal or the states governments should have the most power.  It became clear fairly early after the articles of confederation that the Federal Government had to have some power.  Yet even during the construction of the Constitution, debate waged on just how much power the Federal government has.  Its still a debate today, and actually was what caused us to have our first political parties (The Federalists who wanted a strong central government and the Democratic-Republicans who wanted a weak Federal government with most power going to the States).

Basically this amendment says if a right is not listed here, and is not prohibited by the states, its up to the individual states or local municipalities to make a judgement call.  Which of course causes all kinds of arguments when the Federal government makes decisions that a state doesn’t like.

This is also why some laws differ from state to state even though you might think its common sense.  Most states have seatbelt laws, but not all, and each state has different idea of what they want to regulate.  One such law in my own state was that we used to have a law that motorcyclists had to wear helmets.  This always made sense to me.  I figured it was one of those common sense laws put in because some people don’t use theirs.  However, the state next door had no helmet law and when I would travel through it I would be amazed to see motorcyclists with bandanas or leather caps as their only protection.

The helmet law was repealed in my state in 2003 because it was argued that was over regulation of the people.  Now if you are 21 and older and have a full license, you don’t have to wear a helmet.


A thirty-something Graphic Designer and writer who likes to blog about books, movies and History.

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