So called “tenthers” are arguing these days that a range of laws and programs passed by Congress over the centuries are unconstitutional violations ofthe Tenth Amendment (technically known as "Article X" of the Constitution.
The 10th Amendment provides:
“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.”
A typical argument is that there is “no specific power in the constitution for Congress to adopt a ‘this’ program [such as Social Security]” and they point to the enumerated powers in Article II.
They gloss over three things:
First, Article X does not say “not specifically delegated to the United States....”
Second; Article II, as drafted and adopted by the “founding fathers [and mothers .... I’ll betcha there was lots of espousal ‘discussion’ around the kitchen table and some nights on the couch , about the draft Constitution] has a “here you guy, boys, go on out and play” clause in Section 8,
"The Congress shall have Power.... 18: To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States....”
That is a specific delegation of a general, non-enumerated power to Congress.
Anyone who has actually worked on drafting a law has struggled with the issue of how “general” or how “specific” any particular provision should be.
Too general and you fail to provide necessary guidance to people (the “void for vagueness” doctrine) or not only open the barn doors, but tear the whole thing down as an enclosure; too specific and the law may not achieve the full desired effect, especially as conditions in a society change.
The FF/Ms knew of this balancing act: they avoided “too general” by tying the ‘necessary and proper’ clause to the powers granted by the Constitution, they avoided the too narrow a Constitution by including this general clause.
Third point: The “tenthers ignore the final provision in Article X:
“The powers not delegated to the United States ... are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
How do “the people” exercise the powers “reserved? to them?”
The people can only exercise their power through their vote: by electing officials based on the vision of government and the programs they propose.
So, even Article I doesn't directly reach some program, the "reserved to the people" clause in Article 10 confers that power by the people exercising the vote.
There is, of course, a legitimate question as to how broad the powers of Congress (and the Executive) should be.
But Article X is not a sound basis on which to reach the conclusion that the powers are narrowly limited to only the powers specifically mention in Article I [Congress] (and Article II [the Executive])
[On Edit] See, also my more recent blog discussion of where the Federalist Papers explicitly reject this restrictive "tenther" reading)
Bonus point: If you are a “tenther,” you have to be opposed to immigration quotas - the Constitution does not confer any power to regulate immigration.
Section 8.4, does confer on congress the power to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization” but naturalization is not immigration - immigrants might seek to become citizens, which is what naturalization is, but “moving here” is not the same thing as “becoming a citizen here.