The Sovereignty of the States

James Madison declared, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Unfortunately, we live in a world where men are not angels and we often make mistakes, so usually, government is necessary. It is important, however, to know what the government is meant to provide so we can know when it is not doing enough, or doing too much and taking too much power. The purpose of our government, as stated in the Constitution, is to “form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty.”

The first phrase, “form a more perfect union” is one that is crucial to understand. The States came together when signing the Constitution so they could protect each other’s liberty, but in The Quintessence of Long Speeches, Arranged as a Political Catechism, by Maria Pinckney, it explains that when the states agreed to, and signed the Constitution, “the individuality and sovereign personality of the States was not at all impaired.” In other words, when brought together by the Constitution, the States did not give up any sovereignty, meaning that each state is entitled to, and should make their own laws, and run each State whichever way the government of that state sees fit. The beauty of this system is, if you decide you don’t like the laws in one state, you can move to another. This also means that federal laws should be scarce, and be made only when every state deems in necessary and it is within the powers given them in the Constitution. If the law cannot be made within the boundaries in the Constitution, then it is not a law at all. In the same Catechism as quoted before, it says, “for the people to be free, the states must be free.” When signing the Constitution, the states did not sign away their freedom, but only formed a way to protect it. Likewise, the government should never take away our personal liberty, but only protect it. If we see it begin to take more power than it is given, it is our duty to take it back.

Yours truly, Publius

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