What is More Important, States’ Rights or Individual Rights by Gregory Hilton

According to author Thomas Sowell, the era of segregation in the South existed because of local and state laws which forced private businesses to segregate when most of them really didn’t want to. Defenders of segregation said it should have been allowed to continued because it was a matter of states’ rights. This argument is wrong because an individual’s rights trumps the state or city’s right to restrict them.
The states created the federal government. The Constitution grants powers to the federal government; and not to the states. The Constitution, as a creation of the states, can not grant any powers to the states. The Founders’ perspective was that all political power resided in the people first, they granted some to the states, and then still others to the federal government.
Those powers not specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution, are automatically assumed to reside with the states indivudually within the framework of their own respective constitutions. The Supreme Court has further held that individual power (rights) trumps state power, and that the individual states cannot infringe on a right (such as gun ownership) that is protected by the federal Constitution.
At the Constitutional Convention in 1787 there was a debate about whether a “Bill of Rights” was even needed. Many of the framers said the first ten amendments were not necessary because if something was not in the Constitution to begin with (like freedom of the press) then it was a power that obviously resided with the people themselves. Since it was ‘We the People’ who were creating the federal Government, it would automatically be limited to what the people had said in the document.

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