The Tenth Amendment articulates the principle of federalism, or states’ rights. It states that the federal government has only those powers delegated to it by the Constitution, and that all other governmental powers are reserved to each state.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Recalling the Ninth Amendment, there were two schools of thought as to how best to protect individual rights against tyranny and corrupt governments. The Anti-Federalists argued that a government in the future might claim that God-given rights of the people did not exist if they were not already enumerated as guaranteed. The concern was that over time, a rapacious government might try to seize those rights for itself. Therefore, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments are tethered together to prevent broadening the specific powers granted to our federal government. To that end, these two amendments combined provide catch-alls to clarify that powers not specifically identified as powers enjoyed by the federal government remain rights of the states and the people.
Certain framers of the Constitution believed that a Bill of Rights was not necessary to limit the powers of the central or federal government they envisioned. After the Constitution was ratified, several congressional representatives proposed amendments to “expressly” deny existence of implied federal government powers and forbid the federal government from unjustifiably expanding its reach.
James Madison, the primary drafter of both the Ninth and Tenth Amendment, stated that “it was impossible to confine a Government to the exercise of express powers; there must necessarily be admitted powers by implication, unless the Constitution descended to recount every minutia.” The Tenth Amendment was crafted, therefore, to resolve the different positions, and Madison introduced the Tenth Amendment reasoning that it “…can be no harm in making such a declaration…” And so, the Tenth Amendment serves to emphasize the notion that the inclusion of the Bill of Rights does not change the nature of the federal government created by the Constitution. It remains a government of limited powers. (A number of states ratified the Constitution only with the understanding that it would quickly be amended to include a Bill of Rights.)
Practically speaking and from a current day perspective, we, as Americans, should not take for granted our right to move freely; to live in whichever state we choose. Undoubtedly, we choose where to live in the United States based on personal reasons and many factors, including whether the laws of a chosen state mirror certain values held by the individual considering relocation. Most countries do not have such a wide variety of local (state) laws. Take England for example. If you live in northern England and you don’t like the laws there, it makes no difference if you move to southern England. In America, if you live in Rhode Island and decide you don’t like the laws, you can move to Florida and be governed by an entirely different set of state laws and by different state officials. The Tenth Amendment is the underlying principle that reserved rights to the states and to the people with the goal of limiting the federal government’s control and reducing the risk of unbridled corruption.