The States are Sovereign. That's why they are called States.
Debate Rounds (5)
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 Debate.org - 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
LostintheEcho1498 forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 2 years ago
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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.
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