Resolution on State Jurisdiction and Supremacy


This model policy provides evidence for America’s Founding Fathers’ commitment to Federalism and highlights SCOTUS decisions that have reaffirmed the concept. The model policy then calls on all state legislatures to review and implement a modern day Committees of Correspondence network among the states to uphold state sovereignty in the face of increasing federal encroachment.

Resolution on State Jurisdiction and Supremacy

Resolution on State Jurisdiction and Supremacy

WHEREAS on June 28, 2012, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts noted in the NFIB vs. Sebelius decision, “The states are separate and independent sovereigns. Sometimes they have to act like it.”

WHEREAS Jurisdiction refers to which governing entity has the authority, right, and power to govern over a particular matter; and

WHEREAS jurisdiction over the health safety and welfare and the lives liberties and properties of the people are possessed by the states and not the federal government;

WHEREAS the United States Supreme Court declared, “the federal government must show that a constitutional grant of power authorizes each of its actions. The same does not apply to the states, because the Constitution is not the source of their power. Our cases refer to this general power of governing, possessed by the states but not by the federal government, as the ‘police power.’ Because the police power is controlled by 50 different states instead of one national sovereign, the facets of governing that normally touch on citizens daily lives are normally administered by smaller governments closer to the government.  The framers insured that the powers which in the ordinary course of affairs concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people were held by governments more local and more accountable than a distant federal bureaucracy.  The independent power of the states also serves as a check on the power of the federal government: ‘by denying anyone government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power.’  In the typical case we look to the states to defend their prerogatives by adopting ‘the simple expedient of not yielding’ to federal blandishments when they do not want to embrace the federal policies as their own. The states are separate and independent sovereigns sometimes they have to act like it;” and

WHEREAS Supremacy relates to which governing entity has ultimate authority if rules or rights are in conflict; and

WHEREAS in the 1997 Mack-Prinz v. US decision, the United States Supreme Court declared, “The local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority than the general authority is subject of them, within its own sphere;” and

WHEREAS it was only through active coordination between and among the States that our nation secured its independence and framed our unprecedented Constitution such that “the primary movement was to bring the people to understand their interests and act in concert, and the first means used to attain this end was the establishment of committees of correspondence in different parts of the country”; and

WHEREAS The “Committees of Correspondence” were “the key to concerted action and union;” and

WHEREAS The primary functions of the Committees of Correspondence included:

  1. Expanding understanding of individual and jurisdictional rights, powers and authorities;

  2. Establishing speedy and direct channels of communication and coordination;

  3. Gathering and imparting intelligence and information;

  4. Gathering understanding of public sentiments;

  5. Instilling confidence and courage;

  6. Building consensus;

  7. Fostering Unity of Purpose leading to a Unity of Action (federated action) for common defense;

  8. Building popular authority (people giving “courage” to leaders) for united action; and

  9. Galvanizing the Paramount Issues upon which to act.

Now therefore be it resolved that, in the words of prominent founder, John Dickinson, “it will be their own faults, if the several States suffer the federal sovereignty to interfere in the things of their respective jurisdictions;” and

Be it further resolved that the American Legislative Exchange Council calls upon all State Legislators, and all State Legislatures, to review and implement a modern-day Committees of Correspondence network among the States in order to stand in a united fashion to restore balance to our unprecedented state-federal governing partnership.

Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors on September 29, 2013.

Re-approved by the ALEC Board of Directors on December 26, 2018.