Virginia Resolutions of 1798/Rhode Island
In General Assembly, February, A. D. 1799.
1. Resolved, That, in the opinion of this legislature, the second section of third article of the Constitution of the United States, in these words, to wit, — "The judicial power shall extend to all cases arising under the laws of the United States," — vests in the federal courts, exclusively, and in the Supreme Court of the United States, ultimately, the authority of deciding on the constitutionality of any act or law of the Congress of the United States.
2. Resolved, That for any state legislature to assume that authority would be —
- 1st. Blending together legislative and judicial powers;
- 2d. Hazarding an interruption of the peace of the states by civil discord, in case of a diversity of opinions among the state legislatures; each state having, in that case, no resort, for vindicating its own opinions, but the strength of its own arm; —
- 3d. Submitting most important questions of law to less competent tribunals; and,
- 4th. An infraction of the Constitution of the United States, expressed in plain terms.
3. Resolved, That, although, for the above reasons, this legislature, in their public capacity, do not feel themselves authorized to consider and decide on the constitutionality of the Sedition and Alien laws, (so called,) yet they are called upon, by the exigency of this occasion, to declare that, in their private opinions, these laws are within the powers delegated to Congress, and promotive of the welfare of the United States.
4. Resolved, That the governor communicate these resolutions to the supreme executive of the state of Virginia, and at the same time express to him that this legislature cannot contemplate, without extreme concern and regret, the many evil and fatal consequences which may flow from the very unwarrantable resolutions aforesaid of the legislature of Virginia, passed on the twenty-first day of December last.
A true copy, SAMUEL EDDY, Secretary.