The Importance Of Federalism And The 10th Amendment
Federalism, the division of government into two sovereign powers (the national and state governments), is based in the Constitution and has been affirmed by the Supreme Court’s interpretations as to what the Constitution requires. While the 10th Amendment is the only portion of the Constitution that expressly addresses the division of authoritative rights, many other sections of the Constitution affirm the importance of federalism and justify rules enacted in its protection.
Some federalism-related rules have clear basis in the 10th Amendment, which says powers not delegated to the US are reserved for the states. The anti-commandeering doctrine, which prohibits the federal government from compelling states to govern or regulate in a particular way, is almost explicitly derived from this Amendment; indeed, NY v. U.S., one of the definitive cases establishing anti-commandeering, specifically states that allowing federal compulsion of state action would be “counter to federalism, a core of which is enshrined in the tenth amendment.”
However, other federalism-related requirements of the Constitution seem to be based on principles established in sections other than the 10th Amendment. The limitation of Congress’ commerce power is one such requirement.
While the Supreme Court spent the early part of the 20th century hacking away at federalism by expanding the commerce power in cases like Jones & Laughlin and Wickard, the court later decided in Lopez to place some restraint on…