states' rights

plural noun

Definition of states' rights 

: all rights not vested by the U.S. Constitution in the federal government nor forbidden by it to the separate states

Examples of states' rights in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

By the end of the day, there was unanimous support among these ambitious Democrats in supporting the states' rights to legalize marijuana without federal interference - the stance of the Obama administration. David Weigel, Houston Chronicle, "Democrats attack attorney general's marijuana policy change," 5 Jan. 2018 The decision was seen as a victory for states' rights advocates, who called Obama's establishing of the monuments gross federal overreach. The Tylt, cleveland.com, "Do you support Trump's efforts to reduce national monuments?," 8 Dec. 2017 Thomas is a conservative and a strict constructionist who supports states' rights. CNN, "In rare interview, Clarence Thomas calls Gorsuch 'outstanding'," 2 Nov. 2017 While some contend that the Civil War was fought over states' rights, scholars generally agree that slavery was the primary driver of the conflict. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "John Kelly says 'Robert E. Lee was an honorable man'," 31 Oct. 2017 Luther Martin was a Founding Father who refused to sign the Constitution over states' rights objections. Mike Ellis, USA TODAY, "Who was Martin Luther whose words helped spark the Reformation?," 31 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'states' rights.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of states' rights

1824, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of states' rights was in 1824

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More Definitions for states' rights

states' rights

noun plural

Legal Definition of states' rights 

1 : rights and powers not forbidden to the states nor vested in the federal government by the U.S. Constitution

2 singular in construction : a doctrine based on states' rights that has been used to justify state resistance to federal authority in matters seen as the exclusive concern of the states and that is most often associated with the states favoring slavery and secession in the 19th century — compare federalism

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