Thursday, June 26, 2014

Here is an interesting opinion from an early U.S. Supreme Court Justice....

   “By the 6th article and 2d clause of the constitution it is thus declared:-’That this constitution and the laws of the United States made in pursuance thereof, and treaties made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land.’
   “This provision of the constitution, it is to be feared, is sometimes applied or expounded without those qualifications which the character of the parties to that instrument, and its adaptation to the purposes for which it was created, necessarily imply. Every power delegated to the federal government must be expounded in coincidence with a perfect right in the States to all that they have not delegated in coincidence, too, with the possession of every power and right necessary for their existence and preservation; for it is impossible to believe that these ever were, in intention or in fact, ceded to the general government. Laws of the United States, in order to be binding, must be within the legitimate powers vested by the constitution. Treaties, to be valid, must be made within the scope of the same powers; for there can be no ‘authority of the United States,’ save what is derived mediately or immediately, and regularly and legitimately, from the constitution. A treaty, no more than an ordinary statute, can arbitrarily cede away any one right of a State or of any citizen of a State. In cases of alleged conflict between a law of the United States and the constitution, or between the law of a State and the constitution or a statute of the United States, this court must pronounce upon the validity of either law with reference to the constitution; but whether the decision of the court in such cases be itself binding or otherwise must depend upon its conformity with, or its warrant from, the constitution. It cannot be correctly held, that a decision, merely because it be by the Supreme Court, is to override alike the constitution and the laws both of the States and of the United States.”–Mr. Justice DANIEL, U.S. Supreme Court [THURLOW v. COM OF MASS, 46 U.S. 504 (1847), 46 U.S. 504 (How.), SAMUEL THURLOW, PLAINTIFF IN ERROR, v. THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS., JOEL FLETCHER, PLAINTIFF IN ERROR, v. THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. ANDREW PEIRCE, JR., AND THOMAS W. PEIRCE, PLAINTIFFS IN ERROR, v. THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE. January Term, 1847. (License Cases) P. 613]

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