Nine and Ten

2003-09-03

Some things in life are so simple that everyone ignores them. The purport of America's founding documents is just such a thing. The Ninth and Tenth Amendements to the Constitution of the United States of America read as follows:

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

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.

Two simple sentences, whose meaning is so plain that one cannot help but understand them:

  1. The only powers delegated to the united ("federal") government are those explicitly defined in the Constitution -- all other powers are reserved to the individual states or to the people.
  2. The people retain all of their natural rights -- the fact that a right is not explictly mentioned in the Constitution by no means implies that people do not possess that right.

Oh, how far we have come in our misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Constitution! Nowadays Americans think that the federal government possesses any power whatsoever that it pleases to wield, and that they possess only the rights mentioned in the Constitution (in fact they think that even some of these rights go too far, and must be ceded for the sake of comfort and security). Yet this is an exact inversion of the moral order.

Shame on us!


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