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

First Known Use of states' rights

1824


Law Dictionary

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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