The Tenth Amendment

by Jeremy Pham

What is Amendment Ten?

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.

Analyzation of the Tenth Amendment

What the Tenth Amendment actually means is that States will have a right to be able to perform a certain power if it isn't prohibited in the Constitution. Even if it doesn't state they CAN do it, if the law isn't prohibited, it is allowed.

Historical Background

The tenth amendment was submitted to the states on September 25, 1789 with all of the other "Bill of Rights" amendments. It was officially ratified on December 15, 1791. The main reason this amendment was added because of the fear from the public that extreme power would come back. The Tenth Amendment assured that the federal government won't past the power stated in the Constitution (yet there was still implied power.) Now states have a right to not get restricted unless stated so in the Constitution. The reason that people feared this is because they didn't want a repeat with what happen with Britain and the Parliament. However, you still can't do something that's implied in the Constitution or you can find easy loopholes.
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United States v Lopez 1995 Background of the Case

Lopez, a 12th grader, was trading a gun for $40 dollars at a school and after being questioned by authorities, was charged for the crime and could of faced 6 months in jail. However, Lopez and his lawyer say that Congress can't legislate control over public schools and claims that the Guns Free School Zone Act is unconstitutional.

Court's Unlikely Decision

A very close vote ends up being 5-4. The winning side overruled Lopez's conviction and states the Gun-Free School Zone Act was unconstitutional. This is because it exceeded powers under the Constitution involving the school. This came out as a surprise to almost everyone, and the outcome would of been different by one vote. This also marks the first time in 50 years that the Court limited Congress's power. This is an example of the Tenth Amendment because the Congress went over their power, and they were stopped by the Supreme Court and no one was truly punished.
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Original Picture Explanation

The Original Picture above shows a guy smuggling a gun to his friend. The Federal Government doesn't have the power to actually punish the people as they can't deal with school systems based on this area. Even though its gun free and they should be apprehended, there are other people who can take this into their own hands. They can fix this loophole by enforcing a new law if it was extreme.


"Tenth Amendment," Constitutional Amendments: From Freedom of Speech to Flag Burning, 2nd ed. vol 2. Detroit UXL, 2008. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Leavitt, Amie Jane. Bill of Rights in Translation : What It Really Means. Mankato: Capstone, 2009. Ebook.