Nothing about Donald Trump’s candidacy for the presidency was normal. After all, he defeated more than a dozen recognized names in the Republican Party – even after he refused to promise he would support the GOP candidate if it wasn’t him.
Nor was his stunning-to-many election victory over Hillary Clinton, an icon of one of the most powerful political families in the nation, routine. He won states that Republicans had not won in decades.
Now, it appears his tenure in the Oval Office will venture from the mainstream, but probably in a good way.
A constitutional way.
On a new website his transition team has created, he’s advocating for the 10th Amendment, the provision in the U.S. Constitution cited often by conservatives who believe the federal government has usurped rights the Founders meant for the states.
Under his plan to “make America great again,” he addresses constitutional rights.
“Donald Trump understands the solemn duty that comes from the oath of office – swearing to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ He embraces the fact that the reason the Founders of this nation decided to adopt a written Constitution as the supreme law of the land for the first time in world history was to create a democratic form of government in which ordinary people would know the powers of government and the rights of the people. That is why the Constitution’s 4,400 words were written in a way that ordinary Americans would read and understand them, and use a standard to hold public officials accountable.”
The statement continues: “As President, Donald Trump will fulfill that sworn duty, vetoing legislation that exceeds congressional authority, taking actions as chief executive and commander-in-chief that are consistent with his constitutional role, and nominating judges and Supreme Court justices who are committed to interpreting the Constitution and laws according to their original public meaning.
“He will defend Americans’ fundamental rights to free speech, religious liberty, keeping and bearing arms, and all other rights guaranteed to them in the Bill of Rights and other constitutional provisions. This includes the Tenth Amendment guarantee that many areas of governance are left to the people and the states, and are not the role of the federal government to fulfill. The Constitution declares that as Americans we have the right to speak freely, share and live out our beliefs, raise and protect our families, be free from undue governmental abuse, and participate in the public square. ”
The 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.”
The Tenth Amendment Center (TAC) lists about 30 specific powers granted to the federal government in the Constitution, although the number may change depending on how they’re counted:
- To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
- To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
- To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
- To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
- To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
- To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
- To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
- To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
- To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
- To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
- To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
- To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
- To provide and maintain a Navy;
- To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
- To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
- To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
- To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
- To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
- No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.
- The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
- In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.
- The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.
- The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
- The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
- Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records, and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
- New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union;
- The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
- The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress
- The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment…
- The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
- The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
Those who read the language plainly point out that there’s no federal authority for an Environmental Protection Agency, a Department of Education and many other agencies through which Washington exercises authority over the states.
The argument was used against Obamacare, with critics protesting that the federal government doesn’t have the authority to force all citizens to buy a consumer product.
The 10th Amendment, however, has been discussed little by federal politicians. Those most likely to cite it routinely are classified as “protesters,” “patriots” or “sovereign citizens,” by the federal government.
The TAC’s Michael Boldin wrote: “When it comes to limits of federal power under the Constitution, the view of many Founding Fathers fits under the same theme. That is, federal acts outside of the Constitution are null and void. Oliver Ellsworth, the Supreme Court’s third chief justice, put it this way during the ratification debates: ‘If the United States go beyond their powers, if they make a law which the Constitution does not authorize, it is void.’”
Boldin noted that in 1798, Thomas Jefferson “wrote that ‘whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.’”
“It’s my opinion that no one in their right mind should expect the federal government to limit itself. This also includes the federal courts, a branch of the federal government. And, as I noted in my July 2013 column at Personal Liberty, ‘voting the bums out’ hasn’t been a good strategy either. In other words, if you have a problem with the federal government, you need something outside the federal government to stop it. That would be the states and the people,” he wrote.
Trump also outlined on his site his plans for defense, national security, immigration, a border wall, energy independence, tax reform, regulatory reform, trade reform, education, transportation and infrastructure, financial services reform and health-care reform.