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Federal and state powers and the Tenth and Fourteenth Amendments

The video explores the balance between federal and state powers in the U.S. Constitution. It discusses the Commerce Clause, the necessary and proper clause, and the 9th and 10th amendments. It also covers the 14th Amendment's impact on civil rights and current debates.

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user Mariana553
    What are some examples of popular supreme court cases today that deal with the difference betweeen federal and state powers?
    (9 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • winston default style avatar for user John
      There are numerous so called "Gun Control Cases" which rule that states (looking at you, New York and Illinois) can't deprive their citizens of their Second Amendment rights.
      I'm not sure if this is what you meant, but I hope this helps to answer your question.
      (5 votes)

Video transcript

- [Instructor] What we're gonna do in this video is talk a little bit more about federal powers versus state powers, and as we've mentioned in other videos, this is a relevant topic because even today you'll have Supreme Court decisions being decided based on citing different parts of the Constitution or various amendments that seem to give one power or another more to the federal government or to the state government. Another important appreciation is the balance of power or the shifts of power between federal and state. It has historically changed over time, so it isn't this fixed thing. So in a previous video, we talked about the enumerated powers that the Constitution gives the federal government. In particular, we have talked about the Commerce Clause that allows the federal government "to regulate Commerce among the several states," which has turned out to be a much farther-reaching power than maybe the drafters of the Constitution intended. And then, the thing that really gives power to even the enumerated powers is the necessary and proper clause. "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper "for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers," and so this is what we talk about, this necessary and proper clause, creates a lot of implied powers. So you can imagine, this isn't, the necessary and proper clause is not something that made the Antifederalists very happy. They were worried about power grabs by the federal government. And so you have the Bill of Rights which are the first 10 amendments. And the 9th and 10th amendment in particular are Antifederalists' attempt to limit the federal government's power. So the 9th Amendment says, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, "shall not be construed to deny or disparage others "retained by the people," and even more important, the 10th Amendment, and this is really speaking to federal versus state powers, "The powers not delegated "to the United States by the Constitution," so not delegated to the federal government, "nor prohibited by it," the federal government, "to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, "or to the people," and so you could view this as reserved powers for the states. It's an Antifederalist attempt to say, "Hey, you know, the federal government can't just "do whatever it wants." It's trying to put a little bit of a check on the necessary and proper clause. So if you fast-forward to the period right after the Civil War, you have the 13th Amendment, which bans slavery, and then you have the 14th Amendment, which is trying to bring slaves into society, allow them to be citizens, not just them but their descendants, and this is in direct contradiction of the 1857 Dred Scott decision that we'll talk about in other videos where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that slaves and their descendants are not considered American citizens and so they don't have a right to petition the government, but the 14th Amendment says, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens "of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. "No State shall make or enforce any law," and so this is actually putting constraints on states, and so as we'll see, even though this is in the context of the post-Civil War era, because it's putting constraints on states, this is one of the amendments that's often cited that puts more power in the hands of the federal government. "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall "abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens "of the United States; nor shall any State "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, "without due process of law; nor deny to any person "within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The 14th Amendment has been very relevant in some very current debates. This notion of that any state, no state, can deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, this is often known as the due process clause and it's this idea that no state can really strip away some of the rights that might be articulated in say The Bill of Rights, "nor deny to any person "within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." This is often known as the equal protection clause. This is, you could view it as a protection against some form of discrimination. And so even in very current debates around things like abortion or same-sex marriage, much of the debate will center around the 14th Amendment.