This nation’s official name is the “United” States of America, and even in the Pledge of Allegiance every school child recites daily that it is “one nation and indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” Of course that likely has never been the case throughout the country’s short history, and in the 21st Century it is probably more of a joke than any era since the Civil War. It is true that there was open rebellion and massive bloodshed as one faction that could not countenance a ‘united’ nation sought to rip the country apart, but the sentiment that engendered the Civil War is still alive and well due to one ill-advised amendment to the nation’s founding document; the 10th Amendment.
It is likely that the Founders believed an all-encompassing “law of the land” would serve to unify the nation, and given the U.S. Constitution’s longevity it worked fairly well for those willing to abide by it. However, it is no secret why conservatives have elevated the 10th Amendment above all others; they hate the idea of a “United” States they are forbidden to rule according to their twisted ideology. It is why they consider the U.S. Constitution a flawed document that has no authority because as the law of the land it is executed by the federal government.
In Article VI of the document conservatives, primarily Republicans, hate above all others, it plainly states that as a unifying document, “this Constitution and the laws of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land.” The so-called Supremacy Clause also states that “The Senators and Representatives and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution.”
Easy enough to comprehend, and yet this week it was announced that the Democratic National Committee endorsed a constitutional amendment guaranteeing all citizens the right to vote. What is curious indeed, is that there are already two Amendments devised to guarantee that all citizens, including women and people of color, have the right to vote; the 15th and 19th Amendments. So why on Earth is there a need for another Constitutional Amendment? Because states in the Confederacy, and several Confederate hopefuls, have convinced themselves that the 15th and 19th Amendments are non-existent because according to their bastardized interpretation of the Constitution, the 10th Amendment is the “supreme law of the land.” As such, they conclude that Republican-led states own the right to deny Americans the right to vote.
The 15th Amendment is abundantly clear and it has been since its ratification in 1870. It says in Section 1 that: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” The Amendment further states in Section 2 that: “The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” However, as long as there are Republicans in Congress they will not enforce any voting rights’ amendments any more than they will allow a new amendment guaranteeing every American the right to vote because the 10th Amendment.
It is probable that 21st Century Confederate States will argue that there is nothing in the 15th or 19th Amendments prohibiting “any state” from denying or abridging the right to vote on account of political party affiliation, but if there was no 10th Amendment, it is possible that Confederate states would cede their belief they have supremacy over the Constitution in the first place and there would be no need for a new and special amendment “guaranteeing the right to vote” yet again. Still, it must be noted that if another Amendment did succeed in guaranteeing every citizen the right to vote, Confederate states and their Confederate hopefuls would disregard it according to their allegiance and devotion to their precious 10th Amendment they regard as the Supreme Law of the Land.
Some experts claim that the only corrective for voter disenfranchisement is a new, very specific voting rights amendment. In fact, as noted here and witnessed by Americans over the past decade, if left in the hands of Confederate state legislatures, the right to vote will continue to be treated as a privilege bestowed on select, white Republican individuals based on a state legislature’s Republican majority.
It is true that there is nothing in the Fifteenth, or Nineteenth for that matter, Amendment that puts restrictions on voting rights, but since Republicans reject the Constitution according to Confederate ideology, particularly where it does not grant states supremacy over the federal government, they find any amendment they dislike in contempt and invalid. This is particularly true in theocratic states that pass legislation nullifying the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal rights to all citizens.
A law professor claims that enacting a Constitutional amendment “enshrining an explicit right to vote” will put the burden of proof showing that restricting legal citizens’ right to vote serves a compelling interest. However, Republicans have already committed openly that restricting voters to those supporting Republicans does serve their own compelling interest; defeating Democrats and electing Republicans. If any American believes a special “explicit right to vote” amendment will even be passed, much less ratified, or stop former Confederate states from restricting voting rights, they are seriously delusional because those confederate-types live according to the 10th Amendment; the only reasonable solution is repealing it.
If the 10th Amendment is eliminated, then the Confederate states’ “rights” to restrict voting is eliminated as well and the nation can finally exist under one law of the land. Proponents of a special voting rights amendment think it may ensure uniformity in voting standards across the nation, and although that is a valid argument, if America was “united” under a “Supreme Law of the Land,” then the need for a special voting right amendment would not exist. However, America has likely never been ‘united’ and it is more than likely it never will be as long as the 10th amendment exists.
It is worth reiterating the 10th amendment was the catalyst that ripped the republic apart leading to bloodiest war in American history and killing over three-quarters-of-a-million American citizens. Since Americans elected an African American man as their President, Republicans in Congress and especially the states have demonstrated their blatant disregard for the U.S. Constitution with assistance from Koch funding and Vatican acolytes on the High Court.
Republicans in Confederate states particularly have used the 10th Amendment as a tool to eliminate various Americans’ rights under the 14th, 15th, and 19th Amendments all while claiming their devotion to the Constitution. The 10th Amendment, and states’ rights champions have used the 10th Amendment to deny other Americans’ civil rights, seize federal land, nullify federal legislation, and criminalize federal and state law enforcement agents enforcing legally-passed federal laws, as well as reject federal court rulings and violate long-established statutes in the United States Code. It is time to bring their lawlessness to a halt, bring order and unity to the nation, and eliminate their primary weapon to keep America fractured; eliminate the 10th Amendment.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.