Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is observed each year on Sept. 17 to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 and to recognize all who have become citizens of the United States of America. Constitution week is observed from Sept. 17 to Sept. 23. This law urged civil and educational authorities of states, counties, cities and towns to make plans for the proper observance of the day.

After the ratification of the U.S. Constitution by the states on Sept. 17, 1787, Congress approved the first 10 amendments on Sept. 25, 1789. The Amendments became the “Bill of Rights.”

Amendments I, II and X, and also XIV, which is not part of the Bill of Rights, have received the most attention in the form of public discourse.

The following is a brief statement of the intention of those four amendments:

• Amendment I is most often applied to freedom of speech, of the press and the right to peacefully assemble.

• Amendment II refers to the right to “keep and bear Arms.”


• Amendment X refers to the exclusivity of state powers (states’ rights) not delegated to the U.S. Congress by the Constitution.

• Amendment XIV refers to citizenship for children born in America.

Throughout American history, there have been numerous occasions of Congressional tampering with the original intention of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The continued growth of the central federal government is a reflection of disregard for the 10th Amendment, which concerns states’ rights.

In 1787, Thomas Jefferson referred to his fears of powerful politicians tampering with the intention of any article or amendment. He wrote, “On every question of construction, let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”

During the past 84 years, Congress has reached into the states’ rights and pulled out numerous powers and established costly central federal departments, such as Education, Agriculture, Labor, Energy and Health and Welfare. That has resulted in a federal bureaucracy beyond belief, creating hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars of wasteful spending each year.

Recent examples of waste and social dysfunction within federal education, health and human services and immigration processes highlight the importance of states’ rights. Thomas Jefferson suspected trickery and tampering by powerful men. He was right and Americans have complained without recourse.


Federal mandates, supported by tempting funding grants, have encouraged states to expand benefits without regard to the social consequences. The federal proposal for expansion of Medicare for 70,000 more people in Maine is understood as an example of bribery to control states.

Educators have been forced to teach numerous foreign languages to immigrant children (legal and illegal) as their first language, with English as a second language. Multiculturalism is not what the  forefathers envisioned.

It is widely understood that citizens will need reading, writing, math and speaking skills in English to succeed in the American business world. America needs laws identifying English as the national language.

The Fourteenth Amendment has been destructively interpreted to anoint every person with U.S. citizenship who was born or naturalized in the United States. The Amendment was ratified on July 9, 1868 to right a wrong and grant citizenship for the black children born in America during the period of slavery. Now, the Amendment is used to grant citizenship to everyone born in America (including children of those brought to America illegally). This irresponsible interpretation is one of the most costly federal spending items ever conceived, even competing with the federal defense budget.

I believe Maine must create a formidable plan to address states’ rights to fund and control the state’s destiny regarding education, agriculture, labor, energy and health and human services. States’ rights can only be implemented with strong, visionary leadership. We must address the need for major change in the federal government departments and their disposal of citizens’ taxes to bring sanity to the governmental workings between local, state and federal entities.

In January 2015, a Maine leadership forum could bring together the elected U.S. Maine delegation, governor and legislative leaders to discuss a vision and action plan for Maine state rights and economic freedom. If professionally addressed, Maine’s model and plan could become stimulus for other states to resurrect the intention of the U.S. Constitution’s Tenth Amendment.

We can do better.

Len Greaney of Rumford is a former computer systems executive, a former candidate for the Maine Senate and a former Rumford town manager.

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