Federalist #42: The Powers Conferred by the Constitution Further Considered”

Federalist No. 42 is an essay by James Madison, and the forty-second of The Federalist Papers. It was published on January 22, 1788 under the pseudonym Publius, the name under which all The Federalist Papers were published. Federalist No. 42 continues a theme that was started in Federalist No. 41. Here, Madison contends that the grant…

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A Check on Federal Power: “Superior to All Parchment Checks that can be Invented”

While James Madison wrote the most specific and complete set of instructions on how to stop the federal government without going to the federal government, he was far from the only founder to talk about states as a check on federal power. A little-known Founder from Massachusetts made the case, just like James Madison did,…

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The Myth of Marbury v Madison

The common understanding of the famous Marbury v. Madison case is that it established the authority of the Supreme Court to determine what the Constitution says. From there, it’s held that the Court gets to determine the limitations placed on the federal government as well as the states. In short, the rest of the federal government, and the states, are bound by what the Supreme Court decides.

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We the People of the United States: Who Established the Constitution?

One of the key arguments made by constitutional nationalists is that the Constitution provides that “We the People of the United States . . . do ordain and establish this Constitution.”  The idea is that a single people throughout the country as a whole established the Constitution and therefore sovereignty resides at the national level in that people.

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Thomas Jefferson on the Misuse of the Commerce and General Welfare Clauses

Barely 8 months before he died, Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Virginia politician William Giles about the threat posed by the usurpation of states rights by a growing federal power. He identified federal powers claimed under the commerce and general welfare clauses as especially dangerous.

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James Madison: How to Stop the Federal Government

In response to federal overreach, most people tend to focus on three types of actions to stop them: elections, conventions, and lawsuits. While they all have their place in an overall strategy to defend the Constitution, none of them should be the first step forward. That is, if you follow the advice of the “Father…

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