Federalist Papers Summary No. 32

 

Federalist Papers Summary No. 32

 
 

Federalist Papers Author Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton

Federalist Papers Summary Number 32

The Federalist Papers Summary No 32:  Hamilton
January 2, 1788

This paper discussed some of the States rights taken by the Union and some remaining with the States in the proposed constitution and gives insight into the intent of the constitution in this area.  “The individual States should possess an independent and uncontrollable authority to raise their own revenues for the supply of their own wants”.   “But as the plan of the Convention aims only at a partial Union or consolidation, the State Governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had and which were not by that act exclusively delegated to the United States.” 

There are three areas of exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Government in the constitution.  One is over what is now Washington, DC, given in the last clause of the 8th section of the 1st article.  The second is in the first clause of the same section which empowers Congress “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises” and the 2nd clause of the 10th section declares that “no State shall” without the consent of Congress, “lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports except for the purpose of executing its inspection laws”.  Another clause restricts States from placing a tax or duties on Articles exported from any State.  The next paragraph will explain why these clauses are in the document even though they seem to say the same thing?   (Also does this prohibit a sales tax on items purchased over the internet from another State unless approved by Congress?) .  The third case declares that Congress shall have power “to establish an UNIFORM RULE of naturalization throughout the United States”.

Therefore the States have “the power of imposing taxes on all articles other than exports and imports”.  But then he goes on and on discussing this relatively simple statement.  Why, it sounds simple enough?  Because the discussion explains how the founders viewed Federal and particularly States rights in the Constitution.  A right or power is taken from the States only if it is precisely mentioned in the proposed Constitution.  So the constitution explicitly says States cannot place duties on exports or unless approved by congress imports but says nothing about taxing other items so therefore the power to do so remains with the States as a coequal power with the Union.  The statement is even stronger than that, a negation of a particular right in one area is an affirmation of all other rights in that area.  The statements restricting duties on imports and exports grants the right to States to tax everything else.  In the previous paragraph empowering Congress “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises” does not prevent States from doing the same so it takes a second clause to restrict the States but then Congress might want to allow States to lay taxes on imports so it required a separate clause for that.  Therefore individual State’s sovereignty remains in all areas unless explicitly granted solely to the Union or taken explicitly from the States in the constitution.  He states that is why section 10 of the first article is included, to explicitly make it clear that the States have no authority in the areas mentioned.

 

 

Summary Written by Donald Mellon

 

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