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The 10th Amendment formally changed nothing in the Constitution. No law that would have been constitutional before ratification of the Tenth Amendment is unconstitutional afterwards. The Tenth Amendment simply makes clear that institutions of the federal government exercise only limited and enumerated powers; “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 main purpose of the Tenth Amendment is to draw a line between the federal and state government’s powers. The amendment says that the federal government has only those powers specifically granted by the Constitution. These powers include the power to declare war, to collect taxes, to regulate interstate business activities and others that are listed in the articles. Any power not listed, says the Tenth Amendment, is left to the states or the people. Although the Tenth Amendment does not specify what these “powers” may be, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that laws affecting family relations, commerce that occurs within a state’s own borders, and local law enforcement activities, are among those specifically reserved to the states or the people.
The problem with the 10th Amendment is that it can be interpreted in different ways. The constitution mentions minimum about the states government’s rights, so it can be difficult in some cases to see the thin division between the national and states powers. The court has occasionally needed to decide the exact interpretations of the 10th Amendment to distinguish national and state power. In 1978, Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts which prohibited “any false, scandalous writing against the government of the United States”. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson believed that congress did not have this authority, so they drafted the Kentucky and Virginia Resolution. They believed that the federal government had no right to exercise any power that was no delegated to it and that should the federal government assume such powers, its acts under them would be void. They also felt that the states had the right if it was constitutional to pass such laws.

They based on the idea of Nullification, which says that the States were supposed to interpret the Constitution, and acts that were viewed as unconstitutional would be nullified. John Marshall who was a Supreme Court chief justice wasn’t too fond of the idea of states’ rights. Marshall had for the most part federalist perspectives and his main role while being a chief justice was to strengthen the power of the Federal Government. His most known cases for attempting to cut down states’ rights were McCulloch v. Maryland and Gibbons v. Ogden.

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In the 1819 Supreme Court case, McCulloch v. Maryland, Marshall was in charge for settling the dispute of whether congress had the power to charter a bank and whether Maryland had the power to tax that bank. Marshall determined that the Constitution grants the federal government the power indirectly to execute the Constitution’s definite powers. Additionally, he expressed that the state’s actions may not block valid constitutional activities of power by the Federal government.

In the Gibbons v. Ogden Supreme Court case of 1824 Marshall had to decide whether New York had the right to make a steamboat monopoly on the Hudson River. For the case, he focused on the Commerce Clause which he asserted that the federal government had the right to regulate commerce “among the several states.” His interpretation was that commerce implied any sort of business and that the national government could regulate business in the states.

The result of the Gibbons v. Ogden case did not instantly give the national government the power to control business. Many individuals felt that the national government shouldn’t hold all the power and that the courts should make some decision regarding the regulation of business and the National Government. This prompted an approach known as Laissez-faire which allows business to work with the minimum interference from the government. The National Government’s powers have been limited in some cases such as Cooley v. Board of Wardens of Port of Philadelphia in 1851 and Dred Scott v. Sanford.

In the issue was whether congress regulation on commerce deprived the states of all power to regulate pilots. The Supreme Court gave the states more power to regulate commerce if local interests outweigh national interests. They felt that the decision of this subject ought to be left to the individual states. In the Dred Scott v. Sanford case the question was whether slaves should be considered citizens and being entitled to all the privileges of being an American citizen. The Supreme Court decided that Slaves were not citizens under the United States Constitution and that Congress did not have the power to ban slavery in its territories.

The federalism ways were starting to be questioned. After Chief Justice Marshall died in 1835, Roger B. Taney succeeded him, and established a system known as Dual Federalism, where the branches of government worked best when they were separate but equal. Dual federalism is based on the theory that the federal and state governments are divided into separate domains, and are supreme on those domains. This concept discusses about the distribution of powers for both governments in the Constitution. This theory restrains the central government in certain instances. The state and national governments are autonomous within their domains of operation. This caused a lot of tension between the federal and state governments instead of the them attempting to cooperate, and this system went on for over a century.

The balance of powers between the federal government and businesses were not settled until time after the civil war. In 1895 the Pollock v. Farmer’s Loan and Trust Co. ruled that income tax was unconstitutional, nonetheless it ended up constitutional when the 16th amendment was passed in 1913 which enabled the federal government to an income tax. In the Lochner v. New York case in 1905 said that the states couldn’t regulate working hours for bakers. This was used as an example to indicate how state and national were not able to regulate businesses until the New Deal in the 1930s. In the Hammer v. Dagenhart case of 1918 the Supreme Court decided that Congress had the power to regulate commerce yet does not have the power to regulate the production of goods intended for commerce, meaning that laws prohibiting child labor were unconstitutional.
In the 1930’s President Franklin Roosevelt New Deal came into action. This plan was known as Cooperative Federalism and removed more rights from the states. Cooperative Federalism is where the federal and state governments instead of being in separate domains are supposed to “cooperate” and work together. With this new way of federalism, the federal government being supreme and that the states must do what the federal government says. This plan also bought a change in federal aid where funds are distributed through a categorical grant which gives the central government more control over spending and over the states. There are however some bloack gramts which give the states greater flexibility on spending. This idea is known as New Federalism which is the currently system of the U.S. There are many court cases in the 1990?s under Chief Justice Rehnquist that indicated New Federalism. In the United States v. Lopez case the Supreme Court ruled that because of the Commerce Clause the national government did not have the right to regulate guns in school zones. This shift of power was known as devolution to stop the violation of states’ rights.

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