Resolution Protecting the Basis of Federalism


At the construction conferences, and debates of 1787, the thoughts of the framers were recorded for posterity, context and reference. There are those who have opined on their thoughts put to paper and attempted to justify the rewriting of their work product itself by way of restatements of law and court opinions on how to apply the law. However, one thing remains true and that is the doctrine of enumerated powers.

Resolution Protecting the Basis of Federalism

WHEREAS the framers of the Constitution of the United States sought to create a “more perfect union” of many sovereign states and cede a miniscule amount of their power to a national government that would achieve such an objective; and

WHEREAS President Abraham Lincoln opined in 1859, “We the People are the rightful masters of Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow men who pervert the Constitution.”

WHEREAS nearly every elected official takes an oath of office, swearing to “support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of [INSERT STATE], that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same and defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office…” for the purpose of protecting the objectives of the Constitution itself; and

WHEREAS the doctrine of “inclusio unius est exclusio alterius,” the Latin legal maxim that makes the point that with the inclusion of certain items on a list within a statute or contract, items not on that list are intentionally excluded and outside of the definition, is the foundation of the doctrine of “enumerated powers,” designed to limit the power of the national government and not the States, and the 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 provides a very specific enumerated power to Congress, “to establish post offices and post roads” , and

WHEREAS Article I, Section 8, Clause 17, commonly known as the “Enclaves Clause” preserves the power of the State Legislature to approve sales of land within said state to the Federal government for the expressed purpose, “To exercise exclusive Legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the seat of government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all places purchased by the consent of the Legislature of the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards and other needful Buildings,”

WHEREAS in the Madison Debate on the subject of State land owned by the Federal government on September 5, 1787, where Elbridge Gerry contended, “that this power might be made use of to enslave any particular State by buying up its territory, and that the strongholds proposed would be a means of awing the State into an undue obedience to the Genl. Government,” and where Delegate Rufus King, “thought himself the provision unnecessary, the power being already involved: but would move to insert after the word “purchased” the words “by the consent of the Legislature of the State … This would certainly make the power safe,” were debating with specificity, limits on the land which the United States Government would be permitted to purchase and own; and

WHEREAS under the doctrine of enumerated powers, Congress was not given the power to purchase land for any other reasons under the context of the debate, to protect their sovereignty for domination of the Federal government, their equal footing, and the compact by and between all sister states, one to another,

BE IT RESOLVED that the American Legislative Exchange Council supports a State’s right to strictly limit the sale, gifting and transfer of land to the Federal government for enumerated uses, and to deny the sale, gifting and transfer of land to the Federal government for any uses not enumerated in the Constitution of the United States.


Adopted by the Federalism and International Relations Task Force on July 17, 2020

Approved by the Board of Directors on August 9, 2020