Page:Contemporary Opinion of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, p2.djvu/27

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Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions

Here we must observe, that the report came recommended for our acceptance, by the grand committee of the Legislature, with the words deliberate or between the words to and decide; but the prohibition of a state from deliberating 'on the constitutionality of the laws made by the general government,' appeared so radically erroneous and inconsistent, that a motion was made by one of the defenders of the report, as it now stands, to strike out the words 'deliberate or,' which was agreed to without a dissenting voice, none of those who had voted for printing the official papers, having interfered in the debate.

While, therefore, we highly respect the abilities and precision of the majority of this House, we are compelled to declare, that in our opinion, this amendment renders, if possible, the assertion still more palpably preprosperous, by subjecting each individual state to a degree of humiliation, incalculably painful, and immoderately degrading. For as it appears clearly by the twelfth article of the amendments to the constitution, as has been before observed, that the states individually, compose one of the parties to the federal compact or constitution, it does of course follow, that each state must have an interest in that constitution being pure and inviolate.

By the report, as amended and adopted by the House, each state is tacitly permitted the wretched, despicable prerogative of deliberating through their Legislature, on the real or supposed infraction of a compact, in which they are highly interested. But when they have deliberated, there they must stop, for they cannot communicate their sentiments in the common way, because that must necessarily involve their decision on the question; but this is declared in the report, to be an unconstitutional assumption of power, 'not belonging to state Legislatures.'

As we cannot yield our assent to this new method of tantalizing Legislative bodies, we willingly and cheerfully relinquish to the honorable inventors, all the profit and honor which may arise from the discovery.

Because, each state in the union, is by this diminutive explanation of their rights, debarred from a privilege, not only daily exercised by individual citizens, but in no instance attempted to be denied to them by the great legislative body of the union. As a proof of which we refer to the report of the committee of Congress, to whom was referred the memorials and petitions complaining of the act entitled 'An act concerning aliens,' on the twenty-fifth of February last, who admit in their report, that the memorialists declare this act to be unconstitutional, oppressive, and impolitic, 'and that some of the petitions are conceived in a style of vehement and acrimonious remonstrance,' but not a lisp of blame leaks out from this committee because the petitioners gave their decision, against the constitutionality of this law. From which it appears to us, that the report of this house voluntarily, though we are far from thinking intentionally, sacrifices a valuable prerogative of this state, not expected, much less demanded by the government of the union.

Let it not be supposed, that in advocating the power of each state to decide on the constitutionality of some laws of the union, we mean to extend that right to any laws, which do not infringe on the powers reserved to the states, by the twelfth article of the amendments to the constitution. We cannot, therefore, be charged with an intent to justify an opposition, in any manner or form whatever, to the operation of any act of the union. That we conceive to be rebellion, punishable by the courts of the United States.

Because, in the latter part of the report on the Kentucky resolutions,