When the Framers of the Constitution sent their handiwork out to the states for ratification in 1787, opponents denounced it. The new system of government, they argued, threatened to take away power from the states and the people and give it to the federal government. Many of these Anti-Federalists, as they were called, agreed to support ratification, though, in return for a promise that the new Congress would quickly add amendments protecting the people’s rights.
We, the co-authors of Fault Lines in the Constitution, are ecstatic that the opening story of our first chapter is now obsolete.
Almost all major laws passed by Congress involve compromises to reach the necessary number of votes to pass.
Just as the Earth contains underground fault lines that slip, slide, and sink, causing earthquakes, so does the basis of our Constitution contain fractures that can demolish our government.
What’s a constitution for, anyway? What good does one do? What use is it?
In response to recent events, we want to explore a different clause in the Constitution—the Supremacy Clause—and raise the question: is this aspect of our government another fault line? Or is it actually solid bedrock that should remain unchanged?