We hear the term states’ rights thrown around a lot, but most people don’t really know what it means. In this episode of Thoughts from Maharrey Head, I talk about the concept of states’ rights and its importance in the American constitutional system.
What do we mean when we use the term states’ rights? Are we saying a geographical area somehow has rights? Or do we mean the state governments have rights? Or is it something else?
In this episode of Thoughts from Maharrey Head, I explain exactly what the term states’ rights really means and how the idea extends from the American conception of political sovereignty. In the process, I take apart the conventional narrative that the United States was formed by “one American people.”
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SHOW NOTES AND LINKS
“It is indeed true that the term ‘states’ is sometimes used in a vague sense, and sometimes in different senses, according to the subject to which it is applied. Thus it sometimes means the separate sections of territory occupied by the political societies within each; sometimes the particular governments established by those societies; sometimes those societies as organized into those particular governments; and lastly, it means the people composing those political societies, in their highest sovereign capacity…In the present instance, whatever different construction of the term ‘states,’ in the resolution, may have been entertained, all will at least concur in that last mentioned; because in that sense the Constitution was submitted to the ‘states;’ in that sense the ‘states’ ratified it; and in that sense of the term ‘states,’ they are consequently parties to the compact from which the powers of the federal government result.”