Let’s restore the 10th Amendment

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 16, 2010

During the past two years, we have witnessed an administration and congress intent on ramming through costly, big-government policies that Americans did not want. From the costly bailouts to Obamacare, the federal government has overreached, taking power from individuals and states and putting it in the hands of unelected bureaucrats.

On Thursday, I introduced the Restoring the 10th Amendment Act to give states an opportunity to challenge unconstitutional mandates before they take effect. Returning power to states and individuals is an important first step to stopping a federal power grab.

The 10th Amendment to the Constitution explicitly 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.” Too often, this amendment is ignored by members of Congress and the executive branch when passing massive overreaching legislation.

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The Code of Federal Regulations, a list of administrative rules published by agencies, now totals an astounding 163,333 pages. While some of the rules are necessary, many of them simply burden millions of Americans and increase federal spending. These rules and regulations also take power away from states and individuals.

Much of the new health care law is a good example of the vast power given to unelected officials. Overall, Obamacare creates 159 bureaucracies, according to a study by the Joint Economic Council. These bureaucrats will be tasked with writing the countless rules and regulations required to implement the onerous health care takeover. Once the rules are written, only a costly and time-consuming court process can overturn them.

A central piece of Obamacare is the individual mandate requiring Americans to purchase government-approved health insurance. I believe this mandate violates the 10th Amendment. Under no other circumstances do we force individuals to pay for something they may not want or cannot afford simply because they are Americans.

My bill would provide special standing for designated state government officials to dispute regulations issued by agencies attempting to implement new federal laws or presidential executive orders.

Under the legislation, any rule proposed by a federal agency would be subject to constitutional challenges if certain state officials determine the rule infringes on powers reserved to the states under the 10th Amendment.

Currently, 43 states are challenging parts of the federal health care law in court because of the mandates on both states and individuals. My legislation would give state officials another tool at their disposal to dispute the unconstitutional overreach of the federal government.

I remain committed to reducing the size and scope of the federal government and making it work more efficiently. Until Congress acts to restore checks and balances on this Administration, the American people have good reason to remain skeptical of Washington.

I hope this bill will provide a small step toward restoring the accountability of the federal government to the people we took an oath to represent.

Sen. Roger Wicker is a Republican representing Mississippi in the U.S. Senate.