Oxymoronic

2004-05-26

On one of the web forums I've been reading, someone mentioned that he is writing a book on states' rights. Is that not an oxymoron? Consider the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution:

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.

Notice the care with which these statements were formulated. The Ninth Amendment speaks of rights retained by the people, but nowhere does it mention states. The Tenth Amendment speaks of powers delegated or prohibited or reserved by various governments (or by the people), but nowhere does it mention rights. There is good reason for this, because persons have rights but governments do not. Persons also have powers, which they may delegate to governments if they so choose, but governments obtain their powers only through delegation by people. So "states' rights" is a contradiction.

Naturally there is much more to say about these topics, but I'm tired of thinking about political matters right now, so I shall leave it for another day.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal