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U.S. Constitution and the Nation Final Research Paper

U.S. Constitution and the Nation Final Research Paper - In...

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In the years following the Civil War through the end of the Progressive Movement in 1930, a constant battle was fought in the Supreme Court concerning State Police Powers and just how much power the State had over the citizens and when the citizens were protected by the U.S Constitution. There are many cases during this time period that demonstrate favor to the State and favor to the people. First it is important to understand exactly what state police power is and why at times the federal government steps in to regulate it. State Police Power is the ability and right of the State to govern and enforce behaviors within its own borders when such concerns as security and welfare are considered. While the U.S Constitution protects every citizen, State constitutions define and limit powers granted to the State to solely protect the people of that State. In as little as 60 years the Supreme Court decided numerous cases defining State rights, and the rights of the people. Examination of the next six cases and determining their effect on State Police Power will give a clearer view into the pattern of decisions of the Supreme Court. First, and possibly the most important in determining State Police Powers are the Slaughterhouse Cases of 1873. After an Act was passed in New Orleans concerning the health of the citizens purchasing meat at local butchers who could not keep their meat as fresh as would be deemed healthy, many butchers were out of business and decided to sue the city. The argument presented was that because of the Civil War and the Fourteenth Amendment the State had no right to intrude on citizens’ national rights. However in a 5-4 decision the Court sided against the butchers stating, “The power is, and must be from its very nature, incapable of any very exact definition or limitation. Upon it depends the security of social order, the life and health of the citizen…” (p. 321). 1
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This statement in key in determining the exact power a state has, and as the court narrowly decided Louisiana had the right to protect the health of its citizens with out encroaching personal rights. Also including that the Fourteenth Amendment was intended
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