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Tenth Amendment Research Papers

The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was to prove extremely important to the subsequent history of the states’ rights controversy. Research papers have called attention to the fact that where the Articles of Confederation had stated that all powers not expressly granted to the federal government were reserved to the states, the Tenth Amendment lacked the word “expressly” and simply stated that power not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to the states, would belong to the people and the states. Term papers on the Tenth Amendment have pointed out that the importance of this omission was understood at the time and that Thomas Tudor and Eldridge Gerry tried—and failed—to get the word “expressly” inserted into the Amendment.

Tenth Amendment

The Tenth Amendment was intended for the following:

  1. To protect the states from federal aggrandizement
  2. To keep the central power from seizing power not granted to it by the Constitution

It can be argued that the process of historical change has defeated the purpose of the Tenth Amendment for, in today’s world, the federal power has grown to be quite larger than that foreseen, or desired, by the vast majority of the founding fathers. Other 10th Amendment term papers have noted that the U.S. Supreme Court since the Progressive Era has been mainly acquiescent with respect to extensions of federal power, that it was very passive about such extensions during the New Deal years, and that the behavior of many southerners after Brown v. Board of Education (1954) worked to politically discredit the state’s rights movement.

The Tenth Amendment has been cited in recent Supreme Court decisions—those of the Burger and Rehnquist Courts--that have tended to reinvigorate the powers of the states. In National League of Cities v. Usery (1976) the Court overturned an amendment made by Congress to the Fair Labor Standards Act, an amendment that extended federal minimum-wage and working-hours provision to state employees. Justice Rehnquist in his majority opinion, evoked the Tenth Amendment, stated that it was no mere truism, and stated that the amendment made by Congress represented a substantial impairment of the functionality of the states. Use of the Tenth Amendment is one of the two ways by which the courts have worked to protect states’ rights against unwarranted extensions of federal power. That power has usually been advanced in the courts by means of interpretations of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

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