Article 6, Clause 2

Document 28

St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries 1:App. 369--70


It may seem very extraordinary, that a people jealous of their liberty, and not insensible of the allurements of power, should have entrusted the federal government with such extensive authority as this article conveys: controlling not only the acts of their ordinary legislatures, but their very constitutions, also.

The most satisfactory answer seems to be, that the powers entrusted to the federal government being all positive, enumerated, defined, and limited to particular objects; and those objects such as relate more immediately to the intercourse with foreign nations, or the relation in respect to war or peace, in which we may stand with them; there can, in these respects, be little room for collision, or interference between the states, whose jurisdiction may be regarded as confided to their own domestic concerns, and the United States, who have no right to interfere, or exercise a power in any case not delegated to them, or absolutely necessary to the execution of some delegated power. That, as this control cannot possibly extend beyond those objects to which the federal government is competent, under the constitution, and under the declaration contained in the twelfth article, so neither ought the laws, or even the constitution of any state to impede the operation of the federal government in any case within the limits of it's constitutional powers. That a law limited to such objects as may be authorised by the constitution, would, under the true construction of this clause, be the suprerme law of the land; but a law not limited to those objects, or not made pursuant to the constitution, would not be the supreme law of the land, but an act of usurpation, and consequently void. A further answer seems also to be, that without this provision the constitution could not have taken effect in those states where the articles of confederation were sanctioned by the constitution; nor could it be supposed that the constitution of the United States would possess any stability so long as it was liable to be affected by any future change in the constitution of any of the states. Other reasons are assigned by the Federalist, for which I shall refer the student to that work.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 4, Article 6, Clause 2, Document 28
The University of Chicago Press

Tucker, St. George. Blackstone's Commentaries: With Notes of Reference to the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Government of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Virginia. 5 vols. Philadelphia, 1803. Reprint. South Hackensack, N.J.: Rothman Reprints, 1969.

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