States Rights?

I was watch John Stewart interview Mike Huckabee again this week. It was a relatively unremarkable interview. I mean it was a very good discussion and people should watch two people with different perspectives politely debate because it should be a how discussions in this country over policy should take place, but none of that is vastly different from any of the other interviews that take place on the daily show. But like I said nothing new really came up in the discussion. That said I think it’s high time I obliterate one thing that keeps poping up in conservative talking points. That is this notion that we have a governmental system that was designed around strong states and a weak federal institution.

Huckabee stated like many have, that the founding fathers believed in a weak federal governement, and as evidence he sites the bill of rights specifically the last amendment in the bill of rights the tenth:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively,

Pretty clear huh? Any powers not given to the federal government specifically in the constitution fall by default to the states. Now i’m not constitutional scholar, and I don’t claim to have any special insight into the founding fathers. What I do know about them is that they were very careful with their language and took great care to be as descriptive as they could be while allowing some wiggle room for later adaptation. But I don’t have to be a constitutional scholar to know that you don’t end a sentence much less an organizing document for an entire nation with a comma. So what’s up with that? Well obviously that is not the complete amendment this is the final piece of that amendment and the end of the bill of right:

or the people.

Like I said i’m no expert on the matter, but I can read. It would seem to me that the framers wanted to restrict the power of government entirely. It would be in line with our concepts of freedom and independence. In fact it seems to say to me that we the people have inherent rights, and sure we allow the federal government to have some and we give some to the states too but unless we do explicitly they default to our innate rights being free and equal citizens.
There are reasons why you want politics to be local, the needs of the people are best address by those most close to the people. There is some common sense to that. But the Bill of Rights isn’t a document about where the federal government stops and where the state government begins. The Bill of Rights is about where government ends. PERIOD. FULL STOP. The Bill of Rights is about individual sovereignty as each of the other ten amendments are testament to. Which is why I can’t buy that when state governments put forth laws that restrict the freedoms of the minority and claim state rights such as the case with abortion legislation, LGBT legislation, immigrant legislation and a whole cacophony of others they are acting within the ideas and rationales of the founding fathers. Forgive my naiveté but I can’t imagine that by simple accident the constitution begins with “We the people” and the bill of rights ends with returning power to the people.

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