The rules of baseball are pretty clear-cut. If the runner arrives at the base before the ball, he is safe. But if the ball arrives before the runner, he’s out.

But what about a tie? What if the ball and runner arrive at exactly the same time? The rules address this scenario as well.

The tie goes to the runner.

Did you know there’s a similar rule when determining the powers of the federal government?

A tie goes to the people.

St. George Tucker articulated this principle in the first extended, systematic commentary on the Constitution. Published in 1803, View of the Constitution of the United States served as an important law book, informing the opinions of judges, lawyers and politicians for the next 50 years. He explained that we should always construe federal power in the most limited sense possible.

“The powers delegated to the federal government, are, in all cases, to receive the most strict construction that the instrument will bear, where the rights of a state or of the people, either collectively or individually, may be drawn in question.”

In other words, if there is any doubt about the validity of a federal power, we should err on the side of the people, or the state. We should assume that the federal government has no such power. If there is any question about whether or not the federal government should do this or that, the answer is always no. The power belongs exclusively to the people, or if they have delegated it – to their states.

A tie goes to the people.


Concordia res parvae crescunt


Small things grow great by concord...

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