Document Type

Arguendo (Online)


The Supremacy Clause of Article Six of the United States Constitution was enacted to remedy the failures of the Articles of Confederation. Initially, the states enjoyed near-boundless state sovereignty in nearly all aspects of the first federalist government. However, in practice, the necessity of federal supremacy for conducting the business of governing obligated the states to prioritize national interests above the states’ sovereignty. To do so required revision of the Articles of Confederation. This drafting culminated in the contentious ratification of the Constitution in 1788, including the Supremacy Clause and the Tenth Amendment. That said, ratifying the Supremacy Clause and establishing the demarcations of state sovereignty as provided by the Tenth Amendment was antagonistic, while state and federal laws each explored the margins of the other’s authority. The first challenge commenced with McCulloch v. Maryland and the Necessary and Proper Clause, which established the implicit powers necessary to exercise those powers enumerated in the Constitution. Commencing with the Naturalization Act of 1790, immigration became a matter for the federal government to regulate. Since the Naturalization Act’s enactment, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that the federal government has broad and exclusive authority in immigration.



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