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The Original CompromiseWhat the Constitution’s Framers Were Really Thinking$
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David Robertson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199796298

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199796298.001.0001

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(p.163) 13 Federalism
The Original Compromise

David Brian Robertson

Oxford University Press

The delegates initially seemed to accept the wide-ranging national authority the broad nationalists sought. But as the complexity of the new governing institutions took shape, the narrow nationalists gained ground with their arguments that the national government be granted only a limited range of additional policy tools, leaving most of the nation's policy authority in the states. The delegates defeated Madison's national veto of state laws, instead inserting the supremacy clause. They accepted the previously inconceivable notion that the national and state governments could share sovereignty, and they institutionalized this distinction when they defined “treason.” The Committee of Detail enumerated the powers of the national government and shifted the onus for exercising government authority from the state governments to the national government. The “necessary and proper” and the “general welfare” clauses added ambiguity to the division of authority.

Keywords:   federalism, sovereignty, national veto, supremacy clause, enumeration of powers, Committee of Detail, necessary and proper clause, general welfare clause, treason

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