Time to Uphold the 10th Amendment

Posted: Jan 14, 2010 5:16 PM
Guest blog post by Rep. Tom Rooney (Fla.)

The 10th Amendment states “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.”  This is a simple straightforward and single sentence Amendment.  Every Congressman, including me, takes an oath of office to swear to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.  However in the past several months there has been rising debate about bills we are considering and how they relate to the 10th Amendment.  This discussion has been amplified recently by Pelosi and Reid hammering their health care bills down our throats from behind closed doors.  The mandates here, as well in the stimulus and overreaching in the hate crimes legislation require me, under my oath, to reaffirm what our role should be under the Constitution I swore to uphold. We should at least have a debate and there is none in this Congress

In response, I introduced H.Res. 1006, a resolution to reaffirm Congress’ commitment to the 10th Amendment.  My resolution simply acknowledges the historical purpose and relevance of the 10th Amendment.  The 10th Amendment was part of the original Bill of Rights, written about in the Federalist Papers over 200 years ago and has been relied upon in Supreme Court rulings ever since.  It was designed and written to protect the states and people from an overreaching federal government.  We are a country founded on individual rights and freedoms, and our Constitution was written expressly to protect those freedoms.  I am afraid some in Congress may have lost sight of this in the pursuit of passing legislation that furthers liberal agenda. 

As a former professor of Constitutional Law at the United States Military Academy at West Point, I had the great honor of instructing our future military leaders on the document that has framed our government, and defined who we are as a nation.  I was constantly reminded that my job was to educate my students on what it was they were going to be asked to fight for.  Our Constitution is the basic rule of law that defines the freedoms our forefathers fought for and generations have died for.  As citizens we are all tasked with protecting our Constitution, but those of us in Washington have the express duty of ensuring all of our Congressional actions are within the strict limits set by the Constitution.

There is great concern that Washington has lost sight of the vision of the founding fathers when they wrote our Constitution, enumerating few powers to the federal government and reserving the rest to the states and the people.  Because of this concern I decided to introduce this H.Res 1006 to reaffirm Congress’s commitment to the 10th Amendment and really the Constitution as a whole.  I hope all of my colleagues in Congress will join me in cosponsoring this important resolution and refocus on what our real job is in Washington. 

Congressman Rooney represents Florida's 16th congressional district and serves on the House Committee on the Judiciary.