According to the Kentucky and Virginia Resolves, a law of Congress could be declared unconstitutional by...?

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According to the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, a law could be declared unconstitutional by the states. These resolutions were written by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, respectively, in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts. The Sedition Acts in particular were a blatantly partisan measure undertaken by Federalists to silence their critics among the rapidly growing numbers of Republicans, or Democratic-Republicans. Jefferson, as the acknowledged leader of this faction, regarded the legislation as unjust and in violation of the Constitution. The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions were approved by the legislatures of the states that gave them their names. Essentially, they argued that states, or more accurately groups of states, could declare laws of Congress unconstitutional. The Kentucky Resolutions went so far as to declare that a "nullification" of the laws was "the only rightful remedy." Madison, in the Virginia Resolutions, was more measured, writing that the states could "interpose" themselves "for arresting the progress of the evil." Both documents were based on a so-called "compact" theory of the Constitution, which asserted that the states, having assented to the document, could take positive action to stop such blatant violations of it. As the Virginia Resolution read, the Constitution was intended to be a "very limited grant of power," one which was limited by the states, which granted this power in the first place. This interpretation of the Constitution would surface again in the debates over nullification of the federal tariff in 1832.

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