States’ rights are the powers granted to states by the Constitution of the United States. They include all the rights, which do not belong to the federal government.


The concept of states’ rights in American history refers to the powers, which only states can possess. The Constitution of the United States includes only the powers of the government. If the Constitution does not contain some of the rights, which do not contradict it, they belong to the states. Thus, the federal government of the United States cannot interfere in the affairs of separate states.

The fundamental concept of the state’s rights doctrine represents the idea that states know more about their problems and ways to solve them than the central government. Therefore, this type of distribution of powers is preferable for both states and the government. However, as one can see from American history, it has certain flaws leading to severe consequences.

This doctrine first appeared before the Civil War and was one of the reasons for it. The southern states believed they have the right to make decisions independent from the central government. They could not agree with the northern states on some issues such as slavery.

The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States delegates these powers to the states. It initially provided for the autonomy of the first thirteen colonies of the United States from Great Britain.

The only restriction to the states’ rights is an obligation for all the laws of state governments to comply with the Constitution of the United States. If there is a conflict between federal law and state law, the federal one prevails.

Nowadays, there are some issues regarding states’ and central government’s rights, such as marijuana legalization, same-sex marriage, assisted suicide, or gun control.