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 This attempt to federalize our elections and strip away states' rights would make cheating easier than ever. Arkansas Online, 28 Apr. 2022 Morgan wants to uphold the rule of law and preserve the U.S Constitution, such as fighting to ensure the federal government doesn't overstep states' rights. Melissa Estrada, The Arizona Republic, 12 Apr. 2022 Thurmond ran for president that year -- in a four-way race against incumbent Harry S. Truman, Republican Thomas Dewey and progressive Henry Wallace -- on a states' rights ticket. Peniel E. Joseph, CNN, 18 Jan. 2022 Chief Justice John Roberts seemed to propose a kind of compromise; that the court only consider the 15-week ban before it and not states' rights to impose earlier restrictions. Claire Zillman, Fortune, 2 Dec. 2021 But the state has asked the high court to strike down its precedent, in the name of states' rights. Fox News, 28 Nov. 2021 The move has state lawmakers accusing the federal government of overreach into states' rights territory. Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY, 11 Sep. 2021 Emmer, chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, favors states' rights to make their own rules. Jim Spencer, Star Tribune, 1 July 2021 There is no issue of states' rights or national rights. Toby Lyles, CNN, 6 Aug. 2021 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near states' rights

states' righter

states' rights


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Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“States' rights.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2022.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on states' rights Encyclopedia article about states' rights


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