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Have the Amendments Favored the National Government?

Which Amendments have strengthened the national government, and how have they done so? Professor Michael McConnell gives an overview of how different amendments have strengthened the scope of power of the federal government. For instance - the 18th Amendment (prohibition) strengthened the US as a nation-state because it created a national police force. The 16th Amendment (income tax) gave the federal government a much greater ‘power of the purse.’ The 17th Amendment weakens the authority of states by replacing the election of Senators by state legislatures to direct election by the people of those states. Overall, the Courts serve as the greatest check on the expansion of the power of the federal government by determining when it oversteps its proper scope of authority. https://youtube.com/watch?v=XZH1_lflxdE


The 18th Amendment, Prohibition, which is often overlooked, was the first Amendment that created a national criminal law system that entailed direct police power regulation on a widespread basis that extended into every town and village and city uh in America. Sociologists tell us that one of the key elements of a nation state is a national police force and it was only with Prohibition that we got one. The Amendment process itself is neutral with respect to federalism. It could, in theory, go either way, but, as it happens, many of the Amendments have strengthened the national government and weakened the position of the states. The 13th Amendment eliminated slavery, which in effect eliminated one of the powers of the southern states. The 14th Amendment gave the national government control over basic civil liberties. A series of Amendments have given the national government authority over various types of limitations on voting. The 16th Amendment created the national income tax and that's why the federal government has such a large command over our economy and is able to tax the income of the United States and and use it for national purposes. I think it's hard to deny that the national government has taken a much larger role, in our national governance than the Constitution originally uh envisioned. In the original Constitution, we had a very powerful way of enforcing the authority of the states, which was that the United States Senate was elected by the state legislatures and so it's job, in a sense, was to represent the states in the system. Now with the 17th Amendment, we now have eliminated that and the Senate is elected by the people of the states. So the principal Constitutional limitation today is probably the judicial one, in which the courts decide whether acts of the national government uh or of the state governments are overstepping their line.

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