State governments needed to keep fed's power in check

Aug 30 2010 - 5:45pm

(UNEDITED)The recent guest commentary: "States' rights hurt individual liberty" unfairly criticized the Constitution for allowing the states to "deprive individuals of life, liberty, and property". The Founder's knew the government that governs best is the government that governs least. The only hope of securing "life, liberty, and property" rights was to separate the powers of the three federal branches of government, and leave the states largely independent of the federal government, which was given few powers over the states. Speaking of the federal government, James Madison wrote: "The accumulation of all power legislative, executive, judicial in the same hands, may justly be prounced the very definition of tyranny." 


And: "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined, principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiations, and foreign commerce". The Tenth Amendment states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution ... are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."


Madison further explained: "The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives liberties and properties of the people and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the states."

The powers of government were widely distributed to prevent concentrated power. Woodrow Wilson said: "Concentration of power always precedes the destruction of human liberty."

Each level or branch of government was assigned that which it could handle most efficiently and economically.

Checks and balances were essential constitutional safety nets to prevent one branch from usurping authority of another. Each branch was expected to jealously guard against usurpation of its exclusive constitutional authority by another. In other words, "ambition must be made to counteract ambition. They incorporated these "ancient principles", which were practiced by early Anglo Saxons and ancient Israel.

Walter Winters



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