13 September, 2008

The Candidates and the Tenth Amendment

This is the thirty-second post in an ongoing series regarding the major Presidential candidates and their views on civil liberties.

This post is about Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) views pertaining to the Tenth Amendment of the Bill of Rights. This is the sister post to the one on the Ninth Amendment.

This will be the last post in the series that looks at the candidates records. The next and final post merely summarizes the preceding thirty-two posts and assigns a final grade.

Here's the text of the Tenth Amendment:

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.

States Rights. Didn't we fight a war over this?

Anyway, neither Obama or McCain do very well in a discussion of states rights. Obama never remembers the Tenth Amendment, and McCain only seems to remember it when convenient.


He's on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment on abortion.

Obama is probably the closest thing there is to an "all abortion, all the time" candidate. He is a co-sponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act.

He's on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment on National IDs.

Unfortunately, both Obama and McCain supported the "REAL ID" act. REAL ID isn't quite a National ID, but the difference is minimal.

He's on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment on Voter IDs.

I led the opposition to photo identification requirements for voting.

He's on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment on Card Check.

I support this bill because in order to restore a sense of shared prosperity and security, we need to help working Americans exercise their right to organize under a fair and free process and bargain for their fair share of the wealth our country creates.

He's on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment on Gay Rights.

Employment Non-Discrimination:
Barack Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and believes it should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Gay & Lesbian Adoption:

Barack Obama believes gays and lesbians should have the same rights to adopt children as heterosexuals.

He's on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment on Hate Crime Legislation.

Barack Obama co-sponsored legislation to expand federal hate crimes laws to include crimes perpetrated because of sexual orientation and gender identity.

He's definitely on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment on Growth of Government. His health care plan, energy plan, and education plan trample all over the Tenth Amendment. He's never met a federal spending program he didn't like.

But it's not just these items. A look at his Blueprint for Change shows that he favors larger, more intrusive federal government in every decision he makes. The Tenth Amendment isn't merely forgotten by Barack Obama, but literally destroyed.

Unfortunately, McCain isn't a whole lot better. I think this is part of the "Senate" disease. It also shows how much we screwed up creating the Seventeenth Amendment. Prior to ratification of the Seventeenth, Senators represented the states, and would hopefully stand up more for states rights. Now they represent the "people", and everything the Senate does is designed to extend their power and control over the "people" under the guise of assistance and compassion.

Anyway, McCain only remembers the Tenth Amendment where convenient.

Despite having nearly the opposite beliefs on abortion as Obama, he also falls on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment. He would like to see Roe overturned, but has never mentioned (that I can find) turning such decisions over to the states.

He's pretty much the same as Obama on National IDs, and is therefore wrong, just like Obama.

For Card Check, it's difficult to say. He opposes the bill, but without invoking the Tenth as a reason.

On Voter IDs, Gay Rights, and Hate Crime Legislation, he's on the correct side of the Tenth Amendment. He correctly believes that these things are for the states to decide.

On Growth of Government, he's, if not good, at least a whole lot better than Obama. He definitely wants to reign in the growth of the federal government. That can only be a boon to states rights.

However, pretty much everything our Congress puts up for vote these days violates the Tenth Amendment in one way or another. The Constitution gives very few powers to the federal government, and yet we have a zillion different agencies and departments, many of which have received McCain's support. I'm looking for the Department of Homeland Security in the Constitution, and I don't see it. I don't see how one could look at the Constitution and support things like No Child Left Behind, either.


Obama: F.

McCain: D-. Really, I wish I had an F+. D- seems too high a grade, but there is some difference between him and Obama. Just not much.

Tenth Amendment: Advantage McCain

Results so far:

Obama McCain
First Amendment F
Second Amendment D- C-
Third Amendment B B
Fourth Amendment D+ D+
Fifth Amendment D+ B-
Sixth Amendment B B
Seventh Amendment C C
Eighth Amendment C B
Eleventh Amendment B+ B-
Thirteenth Amendment D+ B+
Fourteenth Amendment D+ C+
Fifteenth Amendment B B
Nineteenth Amendment B B
Twenty-First Amendment A- A-
Twenty-Third Amendment A- B
Twenty-Fourth Amendment B B
Twenty-Sixth Amendment B B
Taxes D B-
Abortion A+ D
National ID F F
Voter ID A+ F
Card Check F A+
Legalization of Drugs D+ F
Gay Rights A- D
Hate Crime Legislation F C
Growth of Government F A-
Property Rights B- A
Sovereign Rights C- B-
Ninth Amendment B- B
Tenth Amendment F D-

UPDATE: Obama's First Amendment grade lowered to F as documented in this post.


  1. where is the third party candidates Baldwin and Barr?

  2. This has taken an enormous amount of my time. Frankly, I've put far more time into it than I really should've.

    Why is that important?

    A) I'm not going to devote that kind of time to someone who has no chance of winning.
    B) There's nowhere near the information available on third-party candidates, so attempting to do this would waste even more of my time.

    I'll pass. If you want to do the research, I'll add the info, but I'm not going to bother. I have a life.