All A-Buzz About States Rights

Posted By on July 7, 2010

This year it seems that one of the most talked about issues is States Rights. What, with “ObamaCare” the Arizona illegal alien law and just about every other piece of legislation being handed down by Congress and the Obama Administration it appears States rights are being trampled on more than ever before.

I believe we must first come to the realization that the States have been abdicating the rights and Constitutional roll for a very long time.  As we consider this, we must acknowledge that to regain them will not occur over night, and may take more than just a little while. The States have abdicated their position within the Federal government, whether it was by hook or crook matters not, what matters is they gave it up!

Before we get into this we must realize the importance of the initial construction of the Legislative Branch of the government as provided originally within the US Constitution. We must remember this was the single most contentious item in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. More time was spent on this one aspect of the new government than any other. More debates, more flaring tempers, more exasperation, more… well just more, than any other item covered. Why was this such a “hot” item? The initial proposal for the Legislative Branch called for only one house. The problem was how to make this single house fair and equitable between the states?

The large, more populated States wanted this to be based solely on proportional representation, BUT the smaller States saw this as unfair and it would weaken their position, so they wanted the house to consist of equal representation for all the States, BUT the larger States saw this as weakening their advantage, BUT… We could go on and on, as did the Convention through those hot and humid days of the summer of 1787.  It was only through compromise, and the development of what the Founding Fathers called a bicameral system, that calmer heads prevailed and the Convention succeeded.

So, what is a bicameral system? Bicameral is defined as, “having, consisting of, or based on two legislative chambers.”1 Why did they settle on two? Why not three, or four? This was based on the position that the Federal union was to be a union of multiple independent and sovereign States, and also to be a government, “by the people and for the people.” Well, I may not be stating it very well, so let’s look at what James Madison wrote in The Federalist:

If indeed it be right, that among a people thoroughly incorporated into one nation, every district ought to have a proportional share in the government; and that among independent and sovereign states bound together by a simple league, the parties, however unequal in size, ought to have an equal share in the common councils, it does not appear to be without some reason, that in a compound republic, partaking both of the national and federal character, the government ought to be founded on a mixture of the principles of proportional and equal representation.2 (Bold emphases added)

These United States were founded to be a compound republic where each state was an independent and sovereign republic, joined in “league” with others of like nature. These several independent states had their own government, therefore they were to enjoy equal representation within the “league.” Madison says it better just a few paragraphs down the page:

In this spirit it may be remarked, that the equal vote allowed to each state, is at once a constitutional recognition of the portion of sovereignty remaining in the individual states, and an instrument for preserving that residuary sovereignty. So far the equality ought to be no less acceptable to the large than to the small states: since they are not less solicitous to guard, by every possible expedient, against an improper consolidation of the states into one simple republic.3 (Bold emphases added)

Truly, the individual state governments needed a voice to ensure their sovereignty. This was to maintain the compound republic our Founding Fathers gave us. Madison’s next paragraph begins with probably the most telling sentences for us today:

Another advantage accruing from this ingredient in the constitution of the senate is, that additional impediment it must prove against improper acts of legislation. No law or resolution can now be passed without the concurrence, first, of the majority of the people, and then, of a majority of the states.4 (Emphases added)

It is interesting how we today are told, and hold how our senators are representatives of the people. It was never originally intended to be that way! Here a something else Madison stated as he led up to these comments:

It is recommended by the double advantage of favouring (sp) a select appointment, and of giving to the state governments such an agency in the formation of the federal government, as must secure the authority of the former [i.e. the states], and may form a convenient link between the two systems. (Emphases added)

The Senate as originally established within the Constitution was meant to “secure the authority” of the states, AND to provide them a link within the federal system thus linking the federal government to the sovereign state governments!

This was also further reinforced by Article V of the Constitution in the manner in which amendments are ratified. Who ratifies the amendments? The people through popular vote? Or by the Legislatures of the “several States”? the ratification is accomplished “by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress…” The compact uniting these several States can only be amended by the common agreement of the independent and sovereign States.

BUT we have lost that voice within the Federal government. HOW? First, the states ceding this authority to the Federal government by not standing up to its un-Constitutional usurpations of States rights and individual rights prior to the Civil War (that’s the War of Northern Aggression for all you Southerners). After the events of the period of 1860 through Reconstruction these overstepping of the Constitutional boundaries by the Federal government became more and more frequent, and NONE of the states stood against them. Finally, through re-education a new understanding of the constitution came into being, AND we began calling ourselves a “democracy”.

With this now accomplished, and the Federal government assuming the all powerful role in government, and the states properly placated, the Federal government proposed the 17th Amendment. The states submissively acceded and ratified this amendment. Thus their voice was abdicated to the Federal government, and we – by default – became a simple republic.

You want States Rights? The first step will be within the courts, but ultimately it will come down to repealing the 17th Amendment and returning to the states a voice, a link, an advantage to secure these rights, to “secure that residuary sovereignty.”

For additional information see, “Empowering States Rights and Sovereignty.”


1 bicameral. (2010). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
Retrieved July 7, 2010, from

2 The Federalist, Number 62, James Madison, p. 342, Barnes & Noble Classics, New York, ©2006

3 Ibid, p. 343

4 Ibid, p. 343

5 Ibid, p. 342

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