The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution 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.”
People who use the Tenth Amendment in legal arguments to challenge federal power (especially the 2009 healthcare legislation) have been dubbed “tenthers.” The term “tenther” is usually derogatory, similar to “truther” and “birther.”
Ian Millhiser used “tenther” in the liberal website The American Prospect on August 25, 2009, and Millhiser is usually given credit for coining the term.
Wikipedia; Tenther movement
The Tenther movement is a pejorative term used to describe a political ideology and a social movement in the United States which espouses that many actions of the United States government are unconstitutional. Adherents invoke the concept that the states share sovereignty with the federal government and with the people by citing the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution as the basis for their legal and ideological beliefs:
“ 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. ”
Adherents believe that political authority not specifically enumerated in the United States Constitution as belonging to the Federal Government lies with states and citizens. They argue for a return of sovereignty to states and individuals. Opponents use the term in order to draw parallels between adherents and nineteenth century states’ rights secessionists, as well as the movement to resist Federal Civil Rights legislation. However, the contemporary controversy surrounding the tenth amendment is largely focused on fiscal issues, with no serious advocacy of segregationist or racial politics.
Critics of the term note that “Tenther” was first used by those opposed to the movement’s ideas, in an attempt to elicit the idea of conspiratorial movements such as Birthers and Truthers.
A self-defined constitutional “scholar” who claims that the tenth amendment granting authority to state governments, effectively makes all federal laws unconstitutional, or at least ones that he doesn’t like.
“Health care isn’t mentioned in the constitution, so it must be unconstitutional.”
“What about voting rights, product safety codes and the federal highway system?”
“Obama isn’t trying to change those, so I suppose they’re alright.”
“So you’re a tenther then.”
by daecon Aug 28, 2009
The American Prospect
Rally ‘Round the “True Constitution”
Convinced that the 10th Amendment of the Constitution prohibits spending programs and regulations? Conservatives have a movement for you.
Ian Millhiser | August 25, 2009
These efforts are all part of a movement whose members are convinced that the 10th Amendment of the Constitution prohibits spending programs and regulations disfavored by conservatives. Indeed, while “birther” conspiracy theorists dominate the airwaves with tales of a mystical Kenyan baby smuggled into Hawaii just days after his birth, these “tenther” constitutionalists offer a theory that is no less radical but infinitely more dangerous.
Tentherism, in a nutshell, proclaims that New Deal-era reformers led an unlawful coup against the “True Constitution,” exploiting Depression-born desperation to expand the federal government’s powers beyond recognition. Under the tenther constitution, Barack Obama’s health-care reform is forbidden, as is Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The federal minimum wage is a crime against state sovereignty; the federal ban on workplace discrimination and whites-only lunch counters is an unlawful encroachment on local businesses.
Tenthers divine all this from the brief language of the 10th Amendment, which provides that “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.” In layman’s terms, this simply means that the Constitution contains an itemized list of federal powers—such as the power to regulate interstate commerce or establish post offices or make war on foreign nations—and anything not contained in that list is beyond Congress’ authority.
August 26, 2009
Billo says health care mandate is ‘unconstitutional’
Billo Reilly has joined the “tenthers.” They believe in fringe legal theory that the individual mandate for health insurance is unconstitutional because “the federal government cannot force you to do or buy anything.”
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The Rise Of The Tenthers
This is a very important article by Ian Millhiser for The American Prospect. Conservatives have found a new Amendment in the Bill of Rights to glorify, making a grand total of two, as they trash the other eight. Their entire Constitutional theory now rests on the tenth Amendment.
August 27, 2009...6:39 pm
From Birthers to Tenthers – How the Politics of Karl Rove will Destroy America as we Know it
Now a new face emerges, dubbed “tenthers” at ThinkProgress. There are Republicans in Congress who now say that many programs run by the federal government violate the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, even the federal interstate highway system.
8 September 2009, Washington (DC) Times:
Liberal activists have a new name to disparage conservatives: “tenthers.”
Actually I am with MSNBC guy who is not Keith Olbermann here. The Tenth Amendment does not contradict or cancel out the rights given to Congress by Article One. The Tenth just doesn’t apply to issues such as healthcare if you consider them general welfare, which I think is reasonable to do, considering you don’t generally fare well when you’re gravely ill.
From what went before what is clear to me that he meant when he said “the Tenth is a bunch of baloney” is that the “Tenthers’” interpretation of it to justify making the government go social Darwinist on people’s butts and ignore their general welfare is baloney.
Ool | September 12th, 2009 4:19 PM
Wall Street Journal - Law Blog
September 22, 2009, 4:13 PM ET
The Law-N-Politics Neologism of the Day: ‘Tenther’
By Ashby Jones
It’s likely a futile enterprise, it seems, to figure out definitively when the term was created, but it may well have started with this piece, by Ian Millhiser, in the liberal American Prospect.
Others left-of-center sites picked up on Millhiser’s essay and, by extension, the term “Tenthers.” Quickly, some right-of-center/libertarian blogs fought back.
New York (NY) Times
The Buzzwords of 2009
By MARK LEIBOVICH and GRANT BARRETT
Published: December 19, 2009
A person who believes the federal government is mostly illegal because it usurps rights that belong to the states, in violation of the 10th Amendment, which reads, “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.”
New York (NY) Times
Time to Party Like It’s 1854
By GAIL COLLINS
Published: February 18, 2010
The 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which gives the states all powers not delegated to the federal government, is all the rage. (The Second Amendment is so 2008.) Its passionate fans, who are inevitably starting to be referred to as “tenthers,” interpret the amendment as pretty much restricting the federal government to military matters. They feel the health care reform bill is unconstitutional. Perhaps also Social Security.
Stack of Stuff Quick Hits Page
April 21, 2010
Story #4: Libs Deride Gun-Rights Advocates as “Tenthers”
RUSH: In this piece by William Jacobson from Cornell, he used a term I haven’t heard yet: Tenthers. Now, by calling people who want to uphold the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution “Tenthers,” are people using that term...? I assume. It’s the State-Controlled Media. Are they trying to compare the Tenthers to the “birthers”? Are they saying it’s preposterous, that somehow the Tenth Amendment is a conspiracy theory; that somebody who actually wants to uphold the Tenth Amendment, is a Tenther, as though they wear tinfoil hats and are kooks?
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Thursday, April 22, 2010 • Permalink