WASHINGTON -- Two major factors are dominating the Conservative Political Action Conference this year -- the Tea Party movement and the public anger being directed at an overbearing federal government.
Some at this year's conference were saying it's time for the states to take power back and that they need look no further than the U.S. Constitution.
According to the 10th Amendment of the Constitution as ratified by Congress on Dec. 15, 1791:
"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."
Tea Partiers: We've Had it with Big Government
Tea Party partisans at CPAC sounded a common theme: Their countrymen are fed up with an arrogant government.
"For far too long now the elites have told the American people that they're either too ignorant, intolerant or incompetent to govern themselves," Senate candidate Ron Miller said.
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey described politicians reacting to angry citizens who called them to account last fall.
"When folks from all over the country got up and out of their concern went to their town hall meetings and were told to shut up, quit being unpatriotic and don't talk to me," Armey said. "We're having a dialogue here, and that's where you listen to me."
One solution advocated by a panel at CPAC was a rigid respect for the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which severely limits what the federal government can poke its nose into.
Many Americans are worried the federal government is grabbing much more power than it should. But what they may not realize is that in some cases, these power grabs are actually unconstitutional.
"The 10th Amendment to the Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights says that those powers not granted to the federal government in the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people," explained Dr. Merrill Matthews of the Institute for Policy Innovation.
The 10th Amendment and 'Obamacare'
Miller says 'Obamacare' as shaped by Congress that would order Americans to buy something or face legal sanctions if they didn't, was a step too far by the federal government.
"It was simply going to be you have to buy health insurance or you will pay a fine, or ultimately could go to jail," Miller said.
The Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick, who has written extensively about the 10th Amendment, is now pushing states to pass laws protecting their citizens from a federal government reaching too far into their lives.
"As the federal government gets bigger and more oppressive, we are turning to the states and specifically state constitutions to provide a shield against that oppression by providing more and greater liberties at the state level," Bolick said.
Perhaps the only thing that can stop an out-of-control United States government is for the states themselves to stand up to it and demand that it begins to once again respect the 10th Amendment.
*Originally published February 19, 2010.