June 8, 1787
Summary: The delegates decided that all state laws were not subject to veto by the National Legislature.
In the debate over the Constitution, a major need was to balance state and national power and authority. Some delegates leaned toward making states weak in comparison to the federal government and others wanted a weaker federal authority. Rather than a self-conscious application of biblical principles as David Barton and other Christian nationalist propose, the Convention hashed over numerous contradicting ideas and philosophies of government on the way to a compromise.
Charles Pinckney moved to subordinate state laws to federal law.
Mr. PINCKNEY moved, “that the National Legislature should have authority to negative all laws which they should judge to be improper.” He urged that such a universality of the power was indispensably necessary to render it effectual; that the States must be kept in due subordination to the nation; that if the States were left to act of themselves in any case, it would be impossible to defend the national prerogatives, however extensive they might be, on paper; that the acts of Congress had been defeated by this means; nor had foreign treaties escaped repeated violations: that this universal negative was in fact the corner-stone of an efficient national Government; that under the British Government the negative of the Crown had been found beneficial, and the States are more one nation now, than the colonies were then.
While Britain has at times come up as a negative example, Pinckney here invoked the British Crown as a positive model. Madison seconded the motion and appealed to current experience with state governments as reason for this proposal. On this day, the delegates negated the proposal to negate.
1787 Constitutional Convention Series
To read my series examining the proceedings of the Constitution Convention, click here. In this series, I am writing about any obvious influences on the development of the Constitution which were mentioned by the delegates to the Convention. Specifically, I am testing David Barton’s claim that “every clause” of the Constitution is based on biblical principles. Thus far, I have found nothing supporting the claim. However, stay tuned, the series will run until mid-September.
Constitutional Convention Series (click the link)