28 Principles of Liberty: Principles 19 – Only Limited and Carefully Defined Powers Should be Delegated to Government, All Others Being Retained…

Principle 19

“Only Limited and Carefully Defined Powers Should be Delegated to Government, All Others Being Retained in the People.”

by: Charity Angel

There was no principle no more adamantly emphasized during the Constitutional Convention then the absolute necessity to limit the federal government. Not only was this done by carefully defining the powers delegated to the government, but the Founders were determined to bind down its administrators with legal chains contained within the Constitution.

One of the reasons that many of the states would not adopt the original draft is because they feared the encroachments of the federal government on the rights of the states and the people. Therefore, the first ten amendments were added to include the ancient, unalienable rights of the Anglo-Saxon so that there could be absolutely no question as the the strictly limited authority the people were conferring on their central government. We can see this by looking closely at the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

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

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, or to the people.”

The people felt that it was absolutely necessary to hedge up the federal authority because of their experience with a corrupt and abusive government in the past.

Alexander Hamilton commented on this by saying, “There is, in the nature of sovereign power, an impatience of control that disposes those who are invested with the exercise of it to look with an evil eye upon all external attempts to restrain or direct its operations…This tendency is not difficult to be accounted for. It has its origins in the love of power. Power controlled or abridged is almost always the rival and enemy of that power by which it is controlled or abridged. This simple proposition will teach us how little reason there is to expect that the persons entrusted with the administration of the affairs of the particular members of an confederacy (the federal government) will at all times be ready with perfect good humor and an unbiased regard to the public weal to execute the resolutions or decrees of the general authority. The reverse of this (expectation) results from the constitution of man.”

The principle of limited government is enforced by the separation of powers between the states and the federal government by design. The federal government was supreme in matters relating only to its responsibilities and was specifically restricted from invading the independence and sovereign authority that is reserved to the States. This principle had to be carefully perpetuated for a healthy independence otherwise, the independence of each would deteriorate and eventually one would become dominant. If it was the federal government that gained dominance, then it would mean the end of local self-government and the security of the individual. If the States became dominate, then the nation you begin to fracture into smaller units.

The Founders felt that having this balance would make it possible for the people to have recourse if one or the other became dominant or abusive of their powers. Hamilton said that the people could throw themselves into either scale, that they can make use of the other as the instrument of redress.

The Founder's would have frowned on the 17th Amendment. The reason for this is because it took away the ability for the states to more effectively protect themselves by their Senators being appointed by the state legislature thereby making it possible for the Senate to veto anything that the House which they considered a threat to the rights of the individual states. Unfortunately this was wiped out by the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913. This amendment made the election of Senators by popular vote, stripping the state legislatures of their ability to defend their liberty. It caused the states to lose the representation at the federal level and the Senators could now be pressured by whatever popular pressures of the day existed during their campaign season, just like the House of Representatives. Since then there has been no veto power that the states could exercise against the Congress in those cases where a federal statue was in violation of states' rights. In other words, this amendment is in direct violation of the 9th and 10th Amendments of the Constitution, and it would be wise for the American people to restore their Constitutional powers to the State level as was designed by the Founding Fathers.

The 28 Principles of Liberty are adapted from W. Cleon Skousen's Book 'The 5000 Year Leap' and are brought to you by Fragrant Smoke.


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