A portion of the first page of the Constitution. (National Archives/AP)

George F. Will, in his June 21 op-ed, “Is 2020 the year for Libertarians?,” wrote that Bill Weld noted that “the Articles of Confederation excellently referred to powers not ‘expressly’ delegated” to the federal government, implying they were superior to the 10th Amendment, which does not include the word “expressly” in delegating power.

Originally the 10th Amendment did, but James Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, took the word out, worrying that it would overly restrict the powers delegated to this new national government he had helped create. 

And he had a point. If the national government had only powers “expressly” delegated to it, President George Washington might not have agreed to the establishment of a national bank because there is no language in the Constitution “expressly” granting the government that power. Similarly, President Thomas Jefferson hesitated to agree to the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the United States, because he could not find the “express” power to purchase that territory in the Constitution. He was finally persuaded that he could, given that there was no “express” language denying him that power.

Imagine the United States without the middle third of its territory.

Bruce G. Kauffmann, Alexandria