Article VI, Section 2: “…Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
Amendment X: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article VI, Section 2 (see above) provides for a unified governance of the entire United States. Those powers were later limited by the enactment of the 10th Amendment to pertain only to those laws which are under the purview of the Constitution itself. Many people are familiar, if even vaguely, of the Supremacy Clause, but few realize the restrictive might of the Amendment. The two make for contentious disagreement between those who advocate for States Rights and those who promote a strong federal government.
Those who are pro-States Rights seek to define federal government power in a narrow, circumscribed mien, promoting, instead, a government whereby provincial interests supersede that of the broader national populace. Suspicion of “Big Government” and elitist consideration tends to reinforce the belief system held by parochial thinkers who champion smaller government.
On the other hand, those who abide by the intent of the Supremacy Clause envision a strong, unified federal government whose reach provides for homogeneity of purpose and with a broad scope of interpretation and implementation of laws. Inherent to this perspective is mistrust of localized interests impinging upon that of the whole, weakening perceived unified strength.
Each one of us decides which side of the fulcrum we are most comfortable straddling and how far from the center we sit astride this political see-saw whether the issue is Voter Rights, Same-Sex Marriage, Reproductive Rights, Affirmative Action, Gun Rights, etc. Our Constitution and its Amendments are not just dusty old ideas whose meanings and applications have been obliterated by time. They help define who we are as individuals within this polity of America.