Everyone's familiar with the First Amendment's prohibition against federal intrusion on the freedoms of religion, speech, and assembly.
The Second Amendment's guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms is also well known, as is the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination and double jeopardy.
Though they may not know the relevant amendment, Americans also are aware that the Bill of Rights guarantees jury trials in criminal and civil proceedings and prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and cruel and unusual punishment.
Most citizens, however, may have little or no knowledge of two other critically important amendments -- the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Fortunately for Texas, Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott know both well.
The Ninth Amendment stipulates that the rights enumerated in the Constitution and in the first eight Amendments do not preclude the existence of other rights belonging to the people. The Tenth Amendment stipulates that the states and the people retain all powers not expressly granted to the federal government.
In other words, the Constitution is not an exhaustive list of the rights of the people, but it is an exhaustive list of the powers of the federal government.
Citizens also must understand that rights not exercised can be lost, particularly when powers never granted are asserted or assumed without challenge.
Attorney General Abbott's recently-filed lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's endangerment ruling on so-called greenhouse gases is, among other things, a welcome defense of our vitally important Ninth and Tenth Amendments.
The EPA is attempting to force-feed us junk science that could cripple and control the state's economy with arbitrary rules concocted by agenda-driven, anti-business zealots in Washington, D.C.
Even worse: it's a federal attempt to push through so-called anti-pollution "reforms" by regulation that Congress refused to pass as legislation. Our elected representatives would not support it.
The citizenry vehemently has opposed and rejected such measures on their merits, yet EPA officials still are trying to impose sweeping regulations by federal edict, going so far as to use bogus research data from the now discredited University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit.
"With billions of dollars at stake, EPA outsourced the scientific basis for its greenhouse gas regulation to a scandal-plagued international organization that cannot be considered objective or trustworthy," Abbott asserted. "This legal action is being taken to protect the Texas economy and the jobs that go with it, as well as defend Texas' freedom to continue our successful environmental strategies free from federal overreach."
We are grateful to Gov. Perry and Attorney General Abbott for protecting our constitutionally-guaranteed rights against federal usurpation and we are convinced that other state's elected leaders should take a similar stand.