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states' rights

plural noun

  1. the rights belonging to the various states, especially with reference to the strict interpretation of the Constitution, by which all rights not delegated by the Constitution to the federal government belong to the states.


states' rights

plural noun

  1. the rights and powers generally conceded to the states, or all those powers claimed for the states under some interpretations of the Constitution
  2. a doctrine advocating the severe curtailment of Federal powers by such an interpretation of the Constitution


states' rights

  1. Rights guaranteed to the states under the principle of federalism . Under the Constitution , states have considerable autonomy to pass, enforce, and interpret their own laws and to pursue their own public policy programs. Proponents of states' rights argue that the states should be governed with a minimum of interference from the federal government.


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Notes

The relationship between federal and state responsibilities has often been controversial. Until the middle of the twentieth century, for example, the Supreme Court left the interpretation of many civil rights guarantees to the states, resulting in hostile and widespread discrimination against minorities.
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Derived Forms

  • statesˈ righter, noun
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Word History and Origins

Origin of states' rights1

An Americanism dating back to 1790–1800
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Example Sentences

As LBJ did on civil rights, he must realize there are no constitutional or states-rights issues involved—and should say so.

Michele Bachmann supports states rights on gay marriage, but also supports a constitutional amendment outlawing it.

Now, this struck me as being a States rights plea, and as far as our domestic policy goes, I am a pretty liberal guy.

The speaker, Robert M. T. Hunter, was a so-called states-rights man, and a supporter of the independent treasury scheme.

This same argument had previously been urged in my “Centralisation versus States Rights.”

The Democratic party began its career as a States-rights party.

As was to be expected, he had no regard whatever for states rights.

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states' righterStates' Rights Democratic Party