Why did the Framers include the Supremacy Clause in the Constitution?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Framers included the Supremacy Clause in the Constitution because they believed that the national government needed to have more power than the state governments had.  They felt that the state governments had previously had too much power and that the country would be better off if the national government were more powerful.

First, the Framers felt that there would be no point in having a country if the federal government’s laws were not supreme.  If the states could pass laws that would override the national laws, there would be no real sense in which the states were united.  The Union would essentially just be a confederation in which all states were sovereign.

Second, the Framers believed that a confederal form of government was detrimental to the country’s economy.  They felt that the states had been taking actions that created a poor economic climate.  The states had been passing laws that did things like forgiving debts.  They had been engaging in trade wars.  Both of these things made it much harder for the country to thrive, they felt. 

So, the Framers included the Supremacy Clause because they felt that it was necessary in order to have a strong central government that could create a positive economic environment.

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In our Constitution, there is a supremacy clause. It states that the laws of the federal government take priority over the laws of the state governments. There was a reason for putting this clause into the Constitution.

One of the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation was that the federal government didn’t have enough power. If one state voted against a change in the Articles of Confederation, that change couldn’t occur. The federal government also had very limited power. It couldn’t levy taxes, and it couldn’t make people join the army. These restrictions created problems for the federal government.

In order to create a stronger federal government, the Founding Fathers knew the federal government had to have more power. They also understood that if the federal government was going to be strong, the states couldn’t be allowed to reverse federal laws or federal actions. There was some discussion about allowing Congress to veto state laws. While that language didn’t make it into the Constitution, it shows that the Founding Fathers understood the importance of federal supremacy. Therefore, to make it very clear, the Constitution states that the laws and actions of federal government take priority over the laws and actions of the state governments.

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