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In legal terms, the Tenth Amendment is what is known as a “rule of construction.”
It doesn’t add anything to the Constitution, nor does it take anything away. But it serves a very important function. It tells us how to interpret the document. Think of it like a lens through which we evaluate everything the federal government does..
The Tenth Amendment makes explicit two fundamental constitutional principles that are implicit in the document itself.
- The federal government is only authorized to exercise those powers delegated to it.
- The people of the several states retain the authority to exercise any power that is not delegated to the federal government as long as the Constitution doesn’t expressly prohibit it.
In a nutshell, the federal government has a very limited number of things it is authorized to do. These powers are listed throughout the Constitution.
Most power and authority remains with the states; either with the state governments or with the people themselves as they determine in each state. ….