Does 10th Amendment Give States the Right to Set Own Minimum Wage Laws?


The minimum wage controversy has been in the news a lot in the past year as liberals are calling for it to be more than doubled. But who really has the right to establish minimum wages, the states or the federal government?

The Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution reads:

“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.”

So let me ask again, who really has the last say on issues like minimum wage? There are only five states that do not have a minimum wage law of some kind. Nineteen states and three territories have laws that accept the federal minimum wage as their minimum wage. Twenty-six states, two territories and Washington DC have state laws that have set their own minimum wage rate that differs from the federal rate.

Three of those states and the two territories set their minimum wage rates lower than the federal rate. According to the federal government, any state that establishes a minimum wage lower than the federal rate must comply with the federal rate. Is that constitutional for them to force that upon states or is it a violation of the states’ Tenth Amendment rights?

I’m not a lawyer nor am I a constitutional expert but from a general reading of the US Constitution and Tenth Amendment, I would say that the states’ laws trump the federal laws, but we all know that the federal government has little to no regard for the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

One thing is certain; the Obama administration is making minimum wage a bigger issue than the liberal media is reporting. Labor Secretary Tom Perez just announced that his department is starting to aggressively investigate reports of employers paying their employees lower than minimum wage or not paying them overtime. There were only 730 field investigators in the Labor Department when Obama first took office, but that number has been increased to over 1,000 investigators who are out to force every employer to comply.

Among Perez’s announcement was one extremely true and hypocritical comment when he said:

“The law is only as effective as the political will of those enforcing it.”

Under the Obama administration, that has become clearly evident. They pick and choose what laws they want to enforce and what ones they don’t. They believe obeying and enforcing the laws of the land is arbitrary to them but mandatory to everyone else. It’s just like so many Christians who pick and choose what portions of Scripture they want to adhere to and what ones they don’t.

I agree that employers need to obey their state’s minimum wage laws, but does that mean they have to obey the federal minimum wage law if it differs from their own. Employees need to be paid what they are worth and a wage that would allow them to provide for their families.

However, if the liberal push to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour is ever passed, you can count on huge inflation, loss of jobs and businesses closing their doors. The cost of living could also double to reflect the burden placed on employers. The end result is that every American will have to pay for the raises given to others but not to themselves. A minimum wage of $15 per hour would be economically disastrous and throw the US into a depression that could revival or even surpass the Great Depression of nearly 90 years ago.

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