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STATES' RIGHTS HAVE been an important element of the American federal political system. While major areas of policymaking responsibility, such as the treaty power and the power to coin money, have been delegated to the federal government, others arguably have been reserved to the states. When the federal government has attempted to legislate in reserved areas, states have at various times raised claims to their rights in order to negate the federal initiative, with various degrees of success.

The idea of states' rights resulted naturally from the multiplicity of societies that participated in the American Revolution. In addition, many of the grievances against the British government that drove the American colonists to rebellion centered on British rejection of the Americans' understanding concerning their colonial assemblies' (soon ...

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