Is the United States of America a nation-state?

This hardly has anything to do with whether or not we are a Union, which is why it is Bunk. Powers are given to certain areas that’s obvious, but does the fact that a State does not act wholly independent make us any less a Union? No…in fact, the idea of a Union is that you compromise. And the compromise was that the States would not make their own currency, that there would be but one currency for this Union.

I figured I shouldn’t have to mention this, that it should be obvious that bringing up the fact that States can’t coin money has no bearing on the subject matter.

Pravnik, it also doesn’t matter if the Federal Government can hold this Union together by force or not. The fact is no one can justify that the States did not enter a contract without expectation that should that contract become void it could be broken. This argument has never been refuted except by blood, which is hardly a final verdict.

A whole bunch of people petitioning Congress is “the people”, but a few people petitioning the Supreme Court is “the government?”

Under what rationale could the Supreme Court declare that public display of any religion anywhere violates the Establishment Clause (instead of being a clear violation of the Free Exercise Clause), and why would this danger not be present without the 14th Amentment? The 14th Amendment is the only thing that prevents a state from passing such a law. Prior to its passage religious freedoms on the state level had to be protected by state law, as with Jefferson’s drafting of the The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom.

For example?

This is incorrect. The Bill of Rights originally only applied to the federal government and not to the states in any way. Barron v. Baltimore, 1833. Until the passage of the 14th Amendment, the states were under no obligation to refrain from search and seizure, give you a trial by jury, allow you to be represented by counsel, or any of the guarantees of the Bill of Rights. Ask Clarence Gideon.

Yes because look at who is making the decision, a few people whose case is taken by a biased court versus a huge minority whose plight is heard by their elected officials.

The Courts have the power to interpret the Constitution as they see fit, until we take it away from them. I would argue that they abused the Constitution in their ruling that the Ten Commandments in the Alabama State Court House was an “Establishment of Religion.”

How the hell is it an Establishment of Religion? No one was taxed, no one was compelled to become Christians by law…that was a bullshit ruling but we have to put up with it why? Because the 14th Amendment makes it such that the Federal courts can determine what is constitutional or not in a State. Alamaba wouldn’t have had that problem if there were no 14th Amendment.

I know this but the incident with Massachussetts still happend.

And you are sure ignorant to think that the States were all “fascist dictatorships”…it is the States who demanded a Bill of Rights to protect THEM from the Federal Government.

Most States have in their Constitution the institutions that you think are only available by the Bill of Rights…how naive.

**1833 Massachusetts becomes the final jurisdiction to renounce state support of religion. **

The States can handle themselves, they don’t need the Federal Government to enforce “rights” upon them.

So far you’re not showing me any difference between the two except that what I call a “nation” you call a “Union”. Rather Lincolnesque.

Or pass laws in violation of federal law, or enter into treaties, or legislate in areas reserved for Congress, or control their own maritime jurisdiction, or do any number of things that independent nations do as a matter of rote.

You must be confusing me with another poster. I didn’t claim that the federal goverment was superior because it could kick someone’s ass; that would be tantamount to argumentum ad baculum. I asked you where in the Constitution it says that a state can unilaterally secede without the acquiesence of Congress.

pravnik, the Federal Government can not do many of the things other nations can do either. Especially in the past before everything was becomming more centralized.

The Federal government used to not be able to tax the individual…some Governement.

They still can not make laws extending beyond their jurisdictions. Or enforce laws beyond such. And any State Executive or Local Executive can at any time, thumb his nose at the Feds and not enforce any law that they pass. Look at San Francisco, why do you think he’s able to just sit there and marry homosexuals?

And I answered your last point pravnik, you just didn’t like the fact. The fact is the Constitution does not mention at all, which means it is a reserved right to the States and people, 10th Amendment.

Simple stuff man…simple stuff.

Do a search in GD or the Pit on “Moore” for many cogent explanations on why it violated the Establishment Clause. To explain would require a serious hijacking of this thread.


:smack: You are completely failing to see the point, as well as insulting me personally. The states may provide the protections of the Bill of Rights without the 14th Amendment, but are under no compulsion to do so, and in many cases they didn’t. The right against unreasonable or warrantless search and seizure, the right against self incrimination, the right to counsel, the right to a trial by a jury of your peers, the right to freedom of speech, and many others in respect to state governments had to be established in courts because states routinely denied that they had to be held to the same standard as the federal government, and that the Bill of Rights didn’t apply to them.

Well, I dont agree that we are a nation-state, but I also dont agree that what we have is a Union. Semantic as the difference may be, we are a Federation, which is why its called the Federal Government and not the National or Union government.

As for states leaving the federation, no the constitution doesnt say anything about it; therefore its up to the states and people respectively. We dont know yet whether a state cant leave the federation…we do know at least that they cant leave and then first occupy and then bombard Federal property.

I think it might be interesting to argue that, tacitly at least, states ~can~ leave the federation; they just cant then appropriate/bombard Federal property ~which is what started the fighting~!. Unless Im mistaken, the Federal govt treated the Confederacy as a seperate political entity when it treated with it to end the war, thereby granting in a somewhat defacto way the right to leave the Federation.

If the dingbats in the south hadnt taken over all federal property in their sphere, and then bomb Fort Sumpter, we might have seen whether or not a state can legally leave the federation.

But we arent a Nation either, in the sense of the states being mere administrative arms of a national govt, like provinces. Nor are we a nation in the sense of our federal government being comprised of representatives of the state governments. Ironically, at one time we were more of a nation in that sense; when state legislatures picked their senators.

Then there is the 14th amendment; a more subtly far reaching amendment one could not dream of. Establishing a sort of dual citizenship of ones state and the US, the US flavor being supreme. This iteself underscores the Federal aspect, yet also ironically, requires a base minimum from all states in the rights/privelages they grant to the US citizens living within them. Because of the 14th, states now are somewhat the administrative arms of the Federal govt, though how they administer is up to them.

So what we are is in semantic limbo.

As to the EU, my own personal opinion is that the structure of the EU is too much like the structure we had under the articles of the confederacy, and so I dont think its going to last without drastic changes.

Oh c’mon, the Feds have always had the power to apply an income tax, since the first SC challenge against an income tax in 1798. The income tax falls under the heading of a tax on excise; a tax on trade, when you trade your labor for money. And since 4 of the judges on the SC in 1798 who ruled an income tax as constitutional were part of the constitutional convention, I think they knew what original intent was.

Name an independent nation that is forbidden from entering into treaties, passing laws in violation of another sovereign, or coining their own currency, and that must give full faith and credit to all laws of other jurisdictions, as well as guaranteeing the priviliges and immunities of its own citizens to citizens from other jurisdictions, including allowing them to pass though, visit, or relocate there without any interferece.

Any state or local official can thumb their nose at the feds and not defy federal law? Somebody should tell Governor Wallace. My point being, not legally they can’t. Supremacy Clause.

Anything not mentioned in the Constitution is protected by the 10th Amendment? Does that go for, say, gay marriages? The fact that it’s not mentioned in the Constitution could be indicative of many things:

(1) It’s not possible. Once you’re in, you’re in.
(2) The process is exactly the same as if one was applying for statehood.
(3) Congress can do so by a simple majority vote pursuant to their Article II powers, no different from passing any other legislation.
(4) They never thought it would come up.

Whichever one is the right answer, the state can’t interpret the Constitution however it wants to. That power is invested in the courts.

Agreed and underlined three times.

As it happens, nobody is really sure WHAT the 10th Amendment means. It has never been the basis for any important constitutional case – nor has it ever played an important role in politics. We had a GD thread a while back – “What do the Ninth and Tenth Amendments really mean?” –

Nevertheless, our national leaders thought it necessary to amend the Constitution before making an income tax a permanent feature of our government. That’s why the 16th Amendment was adopted in 1913 (the first constitutional amendment since Reconstruction).

Well, the 14th as the first since reconstruction as far as Im aware.

But anyway, all you have to do is a google, and youll find that for every time there was an income tax pre-16th (and there were more than a few), there was an SC challenge and each time the challenge lost. The 16th is really just making more clear what was allready in the constitution anyway, much as I dislike it myself. I imagine they got tired of having to explain themselves all the time. And our current incarnation of the income tax didnt become permanant until sometime after the 16th was passed, unless Im mistaken. The constitution allows tax on wealth as long as a proportionate formula is used, and on excise without contstraint. ‘Wealth’ is static wealth; money-or-valuables-you-allready-have, and examples of that are estate taxes, property taxes and I believe capital gains tax (though not sure about that). Excise taxes, not constrained by the proportionate clause, are income derived from trade; such as trading your labor, or allowing a bank to use your money to loan to others in trade for interest every month.

Now, if you want to get into the constitutionality of many of the methods of the IRS and the seperate tax court system etc, well I wish I had the time to do it myself…

Voodoochile, exactly what definition of “nation-state” are you using here? Not one any political scientist or historian uses, to be sure. Federal republics can be nation-states. Germany is a nation-state; it is also a federation of 16 states, or Lander, none of which is a nation-state in its own right because it does not govern or represent a whole national community, nor pretend to. France is not any “more” of a nation-state than Germany is, just because France has a unitary political system and Germany has a federal system.

The United States of Mexico is, likewise, a nation-state; so far as I’ve heard, not even the rebels in Chiapas dispute that point. So is Brazil. And Australia. All federal systems where the states or provinces have considerable internal autonomy.

Canada, on the other hand, is not a nation-state – not because it has a federal system, but because it is a state comprising two distinct national cultures. It is, rather, a binational state. The Quebecois are a nation (a unique and separate nation, not a part of the cultural nation of France); and the Anglophone Canadians are another nation (ditto, with respect to Britain).

And what on earth do you mean by “a nation in the sense of our federal government being comprised of representatives of the state governments”? Where did that definition of “nation” come from? I’ve never heard anything like it before, and I majored in polysci.

And what do you mean by drawing a distinction between a “union” and a “federation”?

That’s not true. The court in McCulloch v. Maryland, in 1819, ruled a state law unconstitutional. As Pravnik said, what the 14th amendment did, among other things, was to incorporate the protections of the bill of rights to state law. Alabama might not have had the ten commandments controversy without the 14th amendment, but they would still be bound by the constitution.

I was giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming you couldnt really have meant to base a definition of nation-state on something other than structure. But apparently you define nation-state as something more cultural and ethnic in nature than structural. In which case, it becomes a matter of no little subjectivity.

If the Quebecois are a seperate ‘nation’, which structurally they arent, so then, Sweden and Norway are niether Nation-states because of the Sami. I might also say that Mexico isnt either, not just because of the Chiapas but because of the Yucatan as well. Hell, barely half the Yucatani can speak spanish.

I just think to define Nation-state in a way other than governmental structure is to not define it at all, since the definitions of culture and ethnicity themselves are not hard and fast. Nation-state becomes whatever the hell you want it to be.

One difference I can spot right off is that, in the U.S, you only have to be born here to be a citizen. Nothing ethnic or ‘national’ about that. Unless Im mistaken, in Germany and France (and Sweden definately) citizenship is also dependant on the ‘blood’ or ancestry of your parents/grandparents. Absent that, its certainly possible but a whole hell of a lot harder to gain citizenship.

Its not a definition, its one form - “in the sense of”, as in “in the style of”. Our federal government is a distinct entity from our state governments, as opposed to some forms where state or provincial officials appoint, or serve themselves, at the national level as well as the state level; where the national level is comprised in whole are in part by officials from the various state/provincial governments. We dont have such a thing, though as I pointed out, we used to somewhat when senators were appointed by state legislatures. But as it is now, our state governmental systems and our federal are two wholly seperate interacting structures. One is a citizen of the U.S and one is the citizen of their state.

Oh c’mon, its not much worse than your distinction of Quebec being a ‘nation’.

A federation implies a group united under/above/on an umbrella, a constitution, a base framework; a union carries no such implication of a constitution or common framework and one need not be present. A union can be lasting, or not, dependant merely on the whims of those united.

Having read this thread for several minutes before submitting to eye-glazing, isn’t it at heart an argument over the definition of the term “nation-state”?

Plavnik I don’t have much time at the moment, but basically, the ultimate power of interpretation of the Constitution resides not with the courts but the People.

Name me a State that can not of its own free will right at this moment leave this Union. That is, begin coining its own money, its citizens not paying Federal tax and the State not abiding by Federal edicts.

This would result in a war definately, but every State has this power regardless.

A Nation State has no such powers because it itself, is the only state.

Russia will not break away from itself, it is Russia, there is no lower jurisdictions. The Soviet Union is a good example of another Non-Nation State because it was comprised of other Nations.

The Soviet Union was the only entity to coin money, have a military, and all those powers you attribute to the United States National Government.

But when it came down to the will of the people.

The Soviet Union disolved completely into totally autonomous nation states.

If such an event happend in America, there would be 50 nation states were currently there is a Union of States.

See the difference?

I’m not going to argue that these States as of right at this moment, have yeilded MANY powers of foriegn governance to the National Government.

But over all, at any time that the people so will it, a State can leave this Union. It would simply have to keep out of it by force. That was all that was established by the surrender at Appomatox. But nothing else.

There is no local or state official thumbing his nose at the Feds in the San Francisco gay marriage issue or in the Massachussetts court decision. Family Law and its regulation is a State issue. Now some years ago the people of the Commonwealth of Massachussetts (the State) voted for a constitutional amendment and decided that equal protection should be granted to all citizens. As this conflicted with the restrictions in the marriage laws, the Supreme judicial Court of Massachussets (the State’s highest court) decided that the inconsisitency should be solved by the legislature of the State of Massachussetts. So far no federal involvement only state.

Now the mayor of San Francisco decided to issue marriage licences to gay couples in San Francisco, since he has the power to issue such licences from the California Republic, as San Francisco is a city and county and marriage licences are issued at the county level. Therefore, he is thumbing his nose at the State law, not fedral law, and it is being litigated in the State court system, again no federal case involved.

President Bush has referred to the Massachussetts ruling (and I quote from CNN

"In a statement released Wednesday night, President Bush said the ruling was "deeply troubling.

“Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman,” Bush said. “If activist judges insist on re-defining marriage by court order, the only alternative will be the constitutional process. We must do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage.”

Therefore the only federal incidence in the debate is the threat by the federal government (Mr. Bush) to seek a constitutional amendment to limit state powers. I fail to see how this helps prove your point.

As to your problem with the 14th amendment, I belive it has more to do with the “substantive due process” application of said amendment to grant federal protection for individual rights at the state level. However, you must remember that the decision that established the substantive due process did not begin with the 14th amendment, but before it. What is more is that that doctrine was established in the famous Dredd Scott decision and was used to support slavery, and to establish an individual right of property to a citizen of the United States, not of a particular State.

Now as to the OP there is something to be said about the United States of America being one Nation, however it is more aptly a union of sovereign states that delegated some authority (initially), and a greater deal (later) to the federal government. In the sense that separate sovereignties still exist and are recognized by both the State and federal level, one must conlude this is the truth. That the Union has become more close-knit is clear, but to state that individual States do not have any sovereignty is ludicrous. The legal definition of most of our daily activities is defined by the State and not the federal level, as well as most crimes.