GOVERNMENT POSITION PAPER 5
Thequestion of the balance of power between state governments and thefederal government dates back in colonial days. The colonists raisedquestions to British Parliament about the extent to which Britishlegislation about the affairs of the colonies could usurp thejurisdictional operation of colonial laws enacted by colonylegislatures (Drahozal,2004). Relying on the principle of supreme but limited power, thecolonists in the American colony accepted that the British Parliamentcould pass laws that regulate trade in the colonies. The coloniesfavored a federal system that divided power and sovereignty betweencolonies and Britain. The colonists failed paving way for theBritish theory of undivided sovereignty, meaning that citizens of anycolony in effect paid allegiance to the British crown and colonies’legislation had to conform to British law.When the United Stateswas in the process of gaining independence from Great Britain, thesame question arose among the patriots.
Thepatriots had to find a balance between state supremacy and federalsupremacy in a manner that ensured that there was supreme legislativepower with the authority that bound all aspects of legislation inevery part in all cases of the proper object of human laws. Theproper object of human laws, in this case, is the federalconstitution. The amendments to the Articles of the Confederationthat culminated into the United States Constitution envisioned abroader center of power that could harmonize the conflictinginterests of states in through Congress, the Supreme Court, and thePresidency. The argument in this article, therefore, supports thesupremacy of federal legislation and the deliberate enactment andenforcement of federal laws in matters such as food labels,production of foods, livestock development, healthcare, birthcontrol, and issues of equality.
Thenational government should take precedence on issues on of nationalconcern rather the state government. Issues such as food labeling,healthcare, birth control, food production, and equality before thelaw affect all Americans. They are not exclusive to a state and theyelicit as much interest in the citizens of one state as they do tothe citizens of another state. Thus, it is imperative for thenational government to take precedence in legislation andadministration of laws governing food labeling, birth control,healthcare, equality, livestock development, and food production. The support for the supremacy of the national government is based onthe need for a national policy that enables all states to comply withthe expectations of citizens and for citizens to be subjected to thesame standards (Amar,1994). It would be very confusing and unwarranted to have one staterequiring food production companies to label their products andanother having no laws to that effect. Such a situation is likely tomake the citizens some states more exposed to standard defects thanothers, which contradicts with the constitutional requirement thatall citizens should have equal access to state protection againstharm.
Aslong as states will continue to have divided sovereignty between themand the national government, citizens will always be on the losingend. State politics are often influenced by vested interests. Hugecorporations with the resources to influence political opinion oftenrally politicians to support or oppose federal laws under the guiseof state sovereignty in the constitution. Some laws are passed instate legislatures due to massive external influences rather than thewill of state citizens. The remedy to undue influence fromcorporations and other non-citizen-oriented groups is to invokefederal policy through federal legislation.For example, thehistory of the United States indicates that some states took longerto adhere to civil rights of equality than others. It, therefore,required the intervention of the federal government to expedite theprocess of entrenching civil rights legislation into many operationsin the country (Hart,1954). Access to healthcare is one of vital ways both state andnational governments can improve the general welfare of citizens. However, states do not have uniform endowment of healthcarefacilities. The intervention of a national government providesnational standards that all states must adhere to while dispensinghealth services. It also facilitates the basis of legal actionthrough federal law in case of violations by state agents.
Inconclusion, the Supremacy Clause should be invoked in dealing withissues of national importance such as food labeling, birth control,food production, equality, and healthcare. The issues are vitalbecause they affect all citizens regardless of the geographicallocation in the United States. Successful enforcement of equality,healthy foods through accurate labeling, guaranteeing access tohealthcare, and food security across the nation is only possible ifthere is a single standard of reference set by the nationalgovernment. The constitution, through the supremacy clause,prohibits state governments from making it impossible for federallegislation to be implemented at state level. Thus, the nationalgovernment enjoys constitutional protections that give it the mandateto deal with national challenges related to healthcare, equality,food production, food labeling, and birth control. If left to stategovernments, state political machinations are likely to block theexecution of policies that favor minority groups.
Amar,A. R. (1994). The Consent of the Governed: Constitutional AmendmentOutside Article V. ColumbiaLaw Review,457-508.
Drahozal,C. R. (2004). Thesupremacy clause: A reference guide to the United StatesConstitution.Westport, Conn: Praeger.
Hart,H. M. (1954). The Relations Between State and Federal Law. ColumbiaLaw Review,489-542.