The Instigator
Pro (for)
4 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

The States are Sovereign. That's why they are called States.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/11/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,588 times Debate No: 60251
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (32)
Votes (1)




Here is my first argument again:

On July 4 1776, Thirteen Colonies declared Sovereign Statehood and broke away from their oppressive government. Shortly after winning their war for secession they enacted the Articles of Confederation which, not only reinforced their Individual Sovereignty, prevented the creation of another oppressive Central Government. Over the following short years it became known to all States that in order to work together more efficiently, a more powerful Central Government was needed. And on June 21, 1788 the US Constitution was ratified by all current States and became the new Law of the Land for the US. Unlike the Articles of Confederation, the US Constitution created a newer, stronger, more powerful, and (most importantly) more efficient Central Government. But did this new Constitution mean that the still newly formed States are no longer sovereign? Is the US one nation, or the Union of 50 Sovereign Nations?

Debate Topic: Are the States today still sovereign whether or not it is enforced or believed?

Rules: This is my first debate on - Quite frankly I'm just experimenting to see how this works. As for the rules I have 1 and 1 only: Be Respectful. Not because simply because this is a debate to which all opinions must be respected, but because we are all adults and must act in such ways.


To start, I am glad to see new people joining and trying this out. As for how this usually works, is that you would pick a side and send out the challenge and someone, like me, would accept to debate you from the other perspective. This is more of a question and so I will treat it like one. Here we go:
The states are not sovereign but are independent of each other. Let me clarify. A state can make legislature based on the wants of people within that state. The way they are not sovereign is that they all answer to the Federal Government. Federal Legislature trumps state legislature but Federal does not get to decide the smaller matters of state. For example, the Federal Government has decided that marijuana is illegal. This, however, was decided after certain states had already legalized it. So, these particular states have a unique position. They do not have to change their stance so by state law it is legal but if you are caught by Federal Government it is illegal. Now the states which have not made it legal, cannot because of the Federal Law. The States are independent of each other, work separately, but still have to follow the direction of the Federal.
Debate Round No. 1


Welcome, and thank you for joining.

We all can agree that the federal government has authority. But where did it get such power? The federal government didn't always exist. The States (13) were actually here first. These States, with their individual sovereignty, created the Constituon, and Federal Government. Is this not a representation of their sovereignty? I believe it is, and for these reasons:

1) Without the States, there never would have been a Federal Government. These 13 States fought a war for secession to become sovereign. Once victorious, they created the Articles of Confederation which reinforced their sovereignty. As we all know, to work effectively together the states needed a stronger central government. They had just won their sovereignty, do we expect to believe they would give it up after less than 20 years?

2) The Constitution limits the Federal Government; not the States. Each of the first 10 Amendments lists what the Federal Government CANNOT do. It cannot abridge free speech. Infringe on right to bear arms. House soldiers in citizens homes. Search unreasonably. Etc. If the Federal Government was indeed in absolute control, why does the Constitution restrict it and not it's "subordinates" (States)?

3) The tenth amendment states that any power not delegated to the federal government is reserved to the States. Meaning the Federal Government can only do what the States say it can do. Is that not a level of sovereignty?

4) Here is what Thomas Jefferson had to say : "The extent of our country was so great, and its former division into distinct States so established, that we thought it better to confederate as to foreign affairs only. Every State retained its self-government in domestic matters, as better qualified to direct them to the good and satisfaction of their citizens, than a general government so distant from its remoter citizens and so little familiar with the local peculiarities of the different parts." --Thomas Jefferson to A. Coray, 1823. ME 15:483


To start, let me say where the federal government gets power. Us. We vote them in and say here is the power. Now to your statements:
1.) That is true that the states are required for a federal government to exist. As for the Articles of Confederation, they have little use today because they were abolished and replaced with the Constitution. As for whether or not they would give it up, they were actually ready to do so. They wanted to make George Washington the King of America. He declined and suggested a presidency which then turned into arguments about how to balance the government which ended with making it how it is today.
2.) This is true and untrue. It limits the Federal AND State government. Not just the Federal. The point was to give more power to the people and less to the government in general.
3.) This is how they balanced the system. When the Union had won the Civil War the South was afraid of retribution from the Federal Government. The fear resulted in there being checks in balances between the two governing bodies. The point here being, there is no sovereignty because everyone is equal with everyone.
4.) As for Thomas Jefferson, he was in favor of more power to the states unlike Alexander Hamilton who believed in more power to the Federal Government. This is political opinion and so is the opinion of a man, although a very extraordinary man.
Debate Round No. 2


All laws granted to the Federal Government, by the means of our representatives, are granted from the States.

The US Constitution restricts the Federal Government only because each State has their own Constitution. The Constitution of Alaska, my State, says what the State Government can and cannot do. Same as the US Constitution and the Federal Government. The only way the US Constitution restrains the States is in the same way is constrains the Federal Government. IE - If the Federal Government cannot abridge free speech, neither can the States. If the Federal Government cannot take life, liberty, or property without a trial, neither can the States.

The States, however, are not restricted by the US Constitution when it comes to State laws and Regulations. Ex - States force people to buy car insurance to operate a vehicle, the Federal Government does not. The Federal Government has to justify all new laws and prove they adhere to the US Constitution. The States do not.

The Tenth Amendment was written long before the Civil War. It was the blatant disregard of the Tenth Amendment that as one of the main contributing factors for the War. The problem is that each State is not equal because each State is different. This is what Thomas Jefferson was talking about. Each State has its own cultures, preferences, faults, strengths, and ideas. Because of the differences between the States, not one city (DC) could possibly know whats best. That's why DC and Federal Government were created to represent the Union on the world scale and not to dictate what happens domestically.

During the creation of the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution there was of course debates and arguments. The Federalists who wanted total central government, and the anti-federalists who feared and despised central government. What matters in the end is what the Constitution actually says. No where does it say the Federal Government run healthcare. No where does it say the Federal Government regulate the environment. But it does say that the any power NOT granted to the Federal Government is reserved to the States. It proves who is indeed in control.


The laws granted to the Federal Government by the means of our representatives are granted by the representatives.

While the representatives may be from a particular state they are there to represent the people of the state. That may sound redundant but let me explain. The representative is there as just that, a representative. He represents the people, not the state government. That means that while state government has influence, they have no actual say in the creation of Federal Law. What you say next about how states and Federal is true and false. This is not the only way the Constitution restricts the states. The constitution is supposed to be the main guidelines for everyone in the government and for the people. It says, in the most general idea, what you should do, should not do, and what you have the right to. It does not say that whatever the Federal cannot do goes for you too. Its for everyone.

Adhering to the constitution is something that we all have to do. The Supreme Court can call any case on anyone, Federal, State, or Domestic. Whether something is Constitutional was the basis of why we added the 13th Amendment that says that slavery is wrong and unconstitutional. Slavery was a state law that we as a whole decided should not be constitutional.

This is interesting in this way. The power given to the Federal government gives it enough to have power over the states. The states have power over federal because they run on a domestic level and so create all the more finite laws. The whole debates with Articles of Federation and then the Constitution ended mainly in compromise and checks+balances. Every part of the government is limited in some way and dominates in another. This was the beauty of American Democracy. There is no one with power over the other because in one way or another they have some power over you.
Debate Round No. 3


When the people vote on a law in Congress, through their representatives, they're not voting as Americans. They're voting as Alaskans, New Yorkers, Californians, Texans, etc. Basically with each law that is proposed in Congress it is each State that votes whether or not to allow it to pass or fail. I never said representatives represented the state government.

The 13th amendment was an amendment proposed, passed, and ratified by all the states in the union. The Federal government didn't say that slavery is now unconstitutional and abolished, the states did.

'The power given to the federal government gives it enough to have power over the states". <--- where did the federal government get this power? It never had it originally. Who authorized the federal government to have this power? Who signed this power into law in the Constitution? Most importantly, whoever did authorize this power do they have the authority to take it back from the federal government? The states, or more correctly the people of each individual state, gave the federal government this power. If the states were not sovereign to begin with the federal government would've just automatically had this power but this isn't the case. The states have power over the federal government because the federal government has only power given to it from the states. Sure the states could have said you are the federal government and you have authority over us, but is that not an authority over the federal government?


I can see what you are getting at here but let me explain my main position here and you have said several times.

The whole idea of the American government is that it is a Democracy. The people are the ones who give authority to the government. The idea you are getting at is that the enigma of the States controls the Federal but the point is that the State itself does not, the people do. The State government and Federal government have the same amounts of power because the people decided it to be so and give them that power and we continue to do so. As this is the case the idea of the State itself having more power is incorrect. More correctly is that the people of America have the power. This is the distinction that makes us unique and why we have gone so long without the usual total overthrow of government like other countries. The State has no power over the Federal. You, me, and all U.S. citizens do(that is if you are a citizen. If not, sorry for assuming). Let me finish with this. Think about how we got to the point where we believe the government has the power over the people and why. For some reason, people have less and less belief in their power to change this country. The fact of the matter is, the government is all for show. They cannot exist without the people. Period. End of story. No mas. It is when the people realize this that there have been rebellions against unlawful government and if you look at our current and past administration, then you know we are well on our way. Just food for thought.
Debate Round No. 4


We appear to be running down a tangent; and since this is the final round I feel we need to steer this back on course. Yes, ultimately, the people are in charge of Government. People create, vote, and run government. You are 100% correct on that, and I agree with you. But that's not what this debate is about. What I have proposed in this debate is the idea of State Sovereignty. The idea that the States are ultimate in charge of the themselves, and not the Federal Government. I'd like to finish my side of the debate with a quick recap on why I believe:

1) The States are Sovereign.
2) The States are the ultimate authority, not DC and the Federal Government
3) The United States is a Union of 50 Sovereign States, rather than one.

The States are Sovereign

When the Revolutionary War (War for Secession) was won, the US and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Listed in this treaty were the "demands" and goals the successors (States) demanded from their (once) oppressive government. The first demand is quite clear:

"His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof."

Notice that it does say the US, but lists each and every State in the Union. Why? Because Great Britain had to sign the treaty with each and every State, rather than one "giant" nation.

The States are the ultimate authority, not DC and the Federal Government

You and I have already agreed that the Federal Government has authority. In some areas it has authority that supersedes that of the States. But, and a big BUT, we have to realize and come to an agreement that the Federal Government owes its creation and power to the States. After the Revolutionary War the Articles of Confederation, which states that the States are sovereign, failed due to a very weak central government. While the States themselves did NOT fail individually, in order to work more efficiently together a more powerful centralized government was needed. If you read throughout the US Constitution, no where does it state that the States give up their sovereignty to the newly created Federal Government. The Nation was less than 50 years old. The people who fought for our freedom fought for the idea that the States are sovereign. Most of these people were alive during the AOC, and the US Constitution. This is more of an opinion on my part, but why would they agree to give up their sovereignty after they fought to receive it? Of course you had debates from both sides: The Federalists, who were ok with the idea of operating under a system just like that of Great Britain, but only because they would be in charge. Then there were the Anti-Federalists who wanted no Central Government at all. The AOC, and more importantly the Constitution, were the results of constant debates and compromises. The end result being a Strong, Efficient, Central Government for the Federalists; that derives it's power from the consent of the States for the Anti-Federalists. Take eminent domain. The Federalists believed that the Government should have the power to take whatever it wanted for any reason and without paying. The Anti-Federalists said the Government shouldn't take anything without the agreement of the owner. The Compromise: The Federal Government can take whatever it wants so long as it's for public usage and must pay the owner a fair market value determined by a Jury.

The Federal Government has the power to create, sign, and abide by international treaties: because the States, collectively, gave the Federal Government that Power.
The Federal Government has the power to raise and maintain national armies: because the States, collectively, gave the Federal Government that Power.
The Federal Government has the power to Regulate Commerce: because the States, collectively, gave the Federal Government that Power.

Everything the Federal Government does, can do, and cannot do is all thanks to the States; which is what makes the States Sovereign.

"The States in North America which confederated to establish their independence of the government of Great Britain, of which Virginia was one, became on that acquisition, free and independent States, and as such, authorized to constitute governments, each for itself, in such form as it thought best. They entered into a compact (which is called the Constitution of the United States of America), by which they agreed to unite in a single government as to their relations with each other and with foreign nations, and as to certain other articles particularly specified. They retained at the same time each to itself, the other rights of independent government, comprehending mainly their domestic interests." --Thomas Jefferson: Declaration and Protest of Virginia, 1825. ME 17:442

The United States is a Union of 50 Sovereign States, rather than one

I hope that in the end you, and the people who read this debate, understand and agree with what I have said. Please be aware that I am NOT advocating any State to secede from the Union. I am NOT advocating for either side of the Civil War. I am NOT advocating for any rebellion, civil disobedience, or armed uprising against the Capital. I believe the United States is a wonderful place to live. There is nowhere else I'd rather live. I just don't believe that the United States is a single nation; and neither do the Authors of the Treaty of Paris, AOC, and US Constitution.

I want to thank my opponent for debating me on this subject. As I said before it's a topic that I'm very interested in and I'm grateful he has given me the opportunity to express my thoughts. If anyone has any question or comments, please leave them in the Comments section and I will try to respond.

Anchorage Alaska


LostintheEcho1498 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
32 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Sky55Anchorage 2 years ago
Due to the Fact that the States can abolish the governing body that my opponent claims makes the States not sovereign, makes them Sovereign.
Posted by Sky55Anchorage 2 years ago
If the States don't give the government anything, you can easily find something the Federal Government does that it did not receive from the States. But you cannot. Modern government? You find the point in history where the constitution was changed that gave sole power to the federal government. Find the point in history where the Executive Branch (federal government) can create laws on its own without the consent of congress (states). You are the one who is wrong. Your Wikipedia source is wrong. Your "experts" are wrong. You recognize federal power but fail time and time and time again to recognize where it came from.

To the people watching this argument I'll recap what I've said.

The 13 colonies declared sovereign statehood and seceded from Great Britain.

The Declaration of Independence states that the colonies are independent free States and that the US is not a single nation, but rather a union of sovereign States.

The Treat of Paris signed by Great Britain and the States clearly states that each State is sovereign and Great Britain shall recognize this.

The Articles of Confederation states that each State is Sovereign.

The US Constitution is written, voted, passed, and ratified by the States.

My opponent clearly understands the role of Central Federal Government, but he cannot realize, or does not wish to accept, how the Federal Government came to be. He looks at how the Federal Government exists today and believes that's how it always has been. That the Federal government always existed. But he is wrong. It didn't exist until the States created it. I've also challenged him to list a power that the Federal Government has that the States did NOT give it. He has yet to list one. I've also asked him if the States can abolish the Federal Government. He has yet to answer this question which is, of course, yes the States can indeed abolish the Federal Government by way of a Constitutional Convention.
Posted by LostintheEcho1498 2 years ago
"Nothing you've said about the federal Government is wrong, but at the same time it's not right.

List one power of the federal government not granted to it by the states."
Ok this is ridiculous. Sorry, but the States do not grant the modern Federal Government anything. You cannot use an argument that is totally false. It leaves a weak start to a debate and you simply ignore what you want, declaring your own as the truth. This is a poor way to debate. But anyway, I digress. As for if I have said nothing wrong, then by definition it is right. I also did not say anything, twelve different sources were so like I said, go argue with the experts. Then to what it says in the DoI, this was before what I said about modern government so good try but your timeline is a little off. Come back to today first then try and slander my argument. As I have pointed out earlier, this is modern government and to finally get this in your head, STATE DONT GIVE DA FEDERALS ANYTING. Forgive my diction, but it seems I cannot get that across even with 10 paragraphs all saying the people are the ones represented then using sources that say it and giving you an article that has the same ideas as myself. Sorry bro, but the States are not giving anything. If anything we live in a dominantly central government. I think you should reread the whole debate and keep an open mind. See if you can come up with something else at least.
Posted by Sky55Anchorage 2 years ago
Nothing you've said about the federal Government is wrong, but at the same time it's not right.

List one power of the federal government not granted to it by the states.
Posted by Sky55Anchorage 2 years ago
Notice how united is lower case while States is upper case? "united States of America" because this new "nation" was not a single nation. It was a Union of Sovereign States. And, if you look further, even the Declaration of Independence says: "That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

So we have the Declaration of Independence which states Independent States. We have the Treaty of Paris which states individual sovereign States. We have a Constitution written, voted, passed, and ratified by the States and not by the Federal Government.

List one power of the Federal Government NOT granted to it by the states.

What came first, the Federal Government or the States?

Can the States abolish the Federal Government?
Posted by Sky55Anchorage 2 years ago
You were so close if you kept reading the Declaration of Independence. Let me help you: "We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
Posted by LostintheEcho1498 2 years ago
I meant to say "I will let this speak for itself" at the bottom but ran out of room.
Posted by LostintheEcho1498 2 years ago
You know I was almost tempted with the first comment but your ignorance from the second comment wills me to show you this:
"The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States consisting of two houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Both representatives and senators are chosen through direct election, though vacancies in the Senate may be filled by a gubernatorial appointment. Members are affiliated to the Republican Party or to the Democratic Party, and only rarely to a third-party or as independents. Congress has 535 voting members: 435 Representatives and 100 Senators."(
Direct Election: an election in which citizens vote for themselves instead of representatives voting for them (
Now let me show you this:
"On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, referring to the new nation as the "United States of America". The Articles of Confederation in 1781 created a unicameral body with equal representation among the states in which each state had a veto over most decisions. With no executive or judiciary, and minimal authority, this government was weak and lacked authority to collect taxes, regulate commerce, or enforce laws."
This is your idea of what we have above. Now:
"The ratified constitution created a federal structure with two overlapping power centers so that each citizen as an individual was subjected to both the power of state government and the national government.To protect against abuse of power, each branch of government"executive, legislative, and judicial"had a separate sphere of authority and could check other branches according to the principle of the separation of powers." (
I will let this speak for
Posted by Sky55Anchorage 2 years ago
Two simple questions for you to answer:

1) Who came first, the States or the Federal Government?

2) Can the States abolish the Federal Government?
Posted by Sky55Anchorage 2 years ago
1. The ability to declare war rests solely with Congress. (Which are the States)
2. The ability to control and dictate the whole of all American military operations lies with the President. (Granted to the Executive Branch by the States)
3. The ability to decide unconstitutional laws lies completely with the Supreme Court. (Created by the Constitution which was Created by the States)
4. The ability to create Federal Law that applies in all states. (Written, voted on, and passed by Congress which are the States)
5. The ability to launch Nuclear Warheads (Falls under declaration of war which resorts to answer 1)
6. The ability to collect taxes (Granted to the Federal Government by the States)
7. The ability to set standard currency (Granted to the Federal Government by the States)
8. The ability to set interstate commerce (Granted to the Federal Government by the States)
9. The ability to conduct Foreign Policy (Granted to the Federal Government by the States)
10. The ability to print money (Granted to the Federal Government by the States)
11. To establish the Post Office (Granted to the Federal Government by the States)

You have, once again, failed to provide one power of the Federal Government Not granted to it from the States. Please keep trying.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 2 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: I found Pro's case extremely weak. But, given Con's replies and the final-round forfeit from Con (which lost conduct), the win here seems clear. As always, happy to calrify this RFD.