Concept of "Limited Government" Is Right-Wing Bunk: Try to Find Anything Remotely Like It in the Constitution
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Thus, according to the Tenth Amendment, the Constitution itself delegated the power to the federal government. States, in other words, now have no standing to “reserve-back” what they had never “delegated-away” in the first place.
Had it been possible to “un-delegate” the powers of the United States by invoking the Tenth, the Old South would have simply done so and spared itself the bother of secession – not to mention the bother of being annihilated by a series of subsequent Northern invasions. The fact that the South did not even attempt such a strategy attests to the toothlessness of the Tenth Amendment.
No other instance in law would be a better example that we should choose our votes carefully. For in ratifying the Bill of Rights, which included the Tenth Amendment, the American people endorsed the legal fiction that the Constitution – not the original 13 states, or “We the People” – authorized the power of the United States because the Constitution itself said so. If the Constitution has an Orwellian twist, this is it – no matter which side of the aisle you’re on.
The states and the people may amend the Constitution. But they may not do so by nullification (according to the logic inherent in the wording of the Tenth Amendment), or by the judgment of state courts (according to the “supremacy clause” of Article VI), nor may any Amendment be made without the participation of the federal government, itself (according to Article V.) If the Founders had meant to
ensure “limited government,” there is no trace of such intent here.
Paucity of Rights
If the Constitution were intended to provide “limited government,” we might expect it to be chock full of guarantees of individual rights. This is what Tea Partiers may fantasize – but this is not really true. In fact, the Constitution is amazingly stingy in reference to “rights.”
–The word “right” is mentioned only once in the Constitution as ratified. (Art. I, Sec. 8 allows Congress to award copyrights/patents to ensure their holders “… Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”)
–The word “right” – somewhat counter-intuitively – appears only six times in the ten Amendments called the “Bill of Rights.”
Almost a century later, the first of seven other rights were added under pressure from Progressive activists – almost all of which were intended to create and extend democratic participation in self-government.
–Amendment XIV (sanctions against states denying suffrage); XV (universal male suffrage); XIX (women’s suffrage); XXIV (denial of poll tax); and XXVI (18 year-old suffrage); and twice in Amendment XX, which gives Congress the “right of choice” in presidential succession.
–In grand total, the word “right” appears only 14 times in the entire Constitution, as it exists today (including the two rights conferred to government).
Did we all notice that the “Constitution of the Founders” did not include the “right” for anybody at all to vote? Notable, too, is the absence of language implying that any “rights” are “unalienable” or “natural” or “endowed by their Creator.” All such phraseology belongs to the Declaration of Independence, which – apparently unbeknownst to Tea Partiers everywhere – bears no force of law.
The word “power,” by the way, occurs 43 times in the Constitution, each time referring exclusively to the prerogative of government, not right-wingers. Since “individual” rights are mentioned only 12 times, this yields a ratio of about 4:1 in favor of government power over individual rights. Without the efforts of those pesky, democracy-mongering Progressives, who fought for universal voting rights, the ratio would be more than 6:1 today – or 50 percent higher.