Federalist and Anti-Federalist Debate Rings True to this Day

The federalists and the anti-federalists debated what form of democracy should be formed over the newly founded United States of America. Should the country have an overarching government, or should the states maintain the power to govern themselves? This debate still rings true to this day because America still has conflicts between the states and the federal government. Just one of the most common examples would be the civil rights movement. During the 1950s the states and the federal government were put into opposition because a group of people demanded action from their government that is supposed to protect their rights. The segregationists wanted blacks to remain segregated, but this violated their rights to life, liberty, and happiness. African Americans eventually got the supreme court to ban segregation with the Brown v. Board of Education case. This was an important case that shows that the laws of the federal government are more important than state laws.

States cannot infringe on the rights of its citizens that are given by the federal government. This is important because the country needs to keep a check on the states. However, how do the citizens check on the federal government? In the 1940s, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government started putting Japanese Americans into internment camps. They were completely stripped of their rights and taken from their homes. Who was able to stop the government from infringing on its citizens rights when this happened? No one. Here is a webpage for further information about the atrocious act committed by the American government that mimicked Hitler.


The closest institution that we have is probably the supreme court. Cases are brought to the supreme court and determined whether or not they are constitutional. However, not all supreme court decisions protect the citizens rights by the constitution. For example, in 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson determined that segregation was constitutional so long as things were separate but equal. Only later was it determined that separate was not equal.

Furthermore, there are supreme court cases in the last ten years that infringe on the rights of citizens but have been determined constitutional. Citizens United v Federal Election Commission determined that businesses were allowed to create political campaigns that advocate for or against a candidate, so long as the company does not do this through the candidate. By granting citizens rights to companies, it takes away from the voice of the citizens. The average citizen does not have the money to create a campaign advocating for one candidate or another, so why should big business be able to influence so many citizens with their money. By not regulating money in political campaigns, it allows for only those with money to be able to compete. This takes away the ability of the average American to run for office, as well as takes away the voice from the people and gives it to the corporations of America.

While the federalists and the anti-federalists may have disagreed, they both firmly believed in the rights of individual. Both sides would feel ashamed that the citizens of America are losing their voice in American politics. The federalists and anti-federalists were able to come to a compromise to try and protect the country, as well as its citizens, from this very thing. It seems the political elites in this nation will remain in power, until the citizens choose to do something about it. When that will be, I don’t know.

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9 Responses to Federalist and Anti-Federalist Debate Rings True to this Day

  1. wdaghist says:

    For me, I totally support federalism because it has so many positives. The framers of the constitution were aware of the importance of the federal government as to unify states. Federalism has always been protecting rights and liberties. It is true that the opponents think that it is not doing so, but if we pay a closer attention, we will find that federalism has done many steps to toward that. One of these examples was the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Another factor that federalism has offered was it formed a policy information and assessment clearinghouse so state policy makers can readily review the programs in place in other states and their successes and failures. Finally, it made all the implementations of policy makers and government very close to people.

  2. vincetrrs says:

    The Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission decision was one that annoyed me. I do not agree with the idea that big businesses or corporations are able to use their money to sway public opinion on a candidate. Some companies have the ability , as well know, to use a large amount of money to get their candidate into office. I feel as though money should be left out of politics as much as possible. Sure, some expenses are unavoidable but multi-million dollar donations are quite ridiculous if you ask me. Money in political campaigns should be regulated. Perhaps politicians should wear their corporate sponsors logos on their suits.

  3. How far is the government allowed to go? The discussion of Federalists and Anti- Federalists is an interesting one when discussing the Constitution, to be more specific, the Bill of Rights. The Federalists had the foresight to say that the Bill of Rights are restrictions. The fact that they does not discuss privacy, is causing issues today. Plus, the Federalists said that when we needed those rights the most, justifications will allow them to be taken away. Privacy has been one of the rights that has been compromised in recent years. The claim the government made was that we are fighting terrorism, but is that a proper reason to invade on privacy? Or do we not have that right? Where is the line drawn? Can our representation amend the constitution or do we have to go through the Judicial Branch to make a change? I do not know the answers to those questions but I am curious as to how people think regarding the topic of privacy.

  4. imdebock says:

    Thanks for your post. I favor federalism today because it works in the national interest as opposed to states. Because of federalism, constitutional constructions as Balkin called it are possible; that is, the amendments to the constitution. Since group of people were not considered citizens of this nation, there was no provisions made for them in the constitution. Through the help of the federal government, amendments are made through political and social movements.
    States on the other hand make their statutes to suite it political motive and are not in the interest of its citizenry. Let’s take SB1070 as example. The State of Arizona gave power to police to check for immigration status of its people. Do police know the difference between the undocumented and citizenry? This is how the states embarrass its people. With the Supreme Courts checking on the federal government, I believe that the pieces that were omitted in the constitution are what we are amending to suite our present society. We cannot imagine how corporations are persons in our political system. This is because when the law is in the favor of the political elites, they retain it and when it if not in their favor, they tend to change it. This topic remains open to debate.

  5. mbstanton says:

    I found your post to be so interesting. When our nation was freshly escaping the hold of English monarchy, the founding fathers had to tackle the difficult task of deciding the political fate of the United States. Having thoroughly read The Federalists and the Anti-federalists, I became familiar with issues that they felt it relevant to consider. Over two hundred years later, we have come to find ourselves struggling with such issues. As young citizens of the United States, it is our job to be aware of these things and to be proactive in handling them. If it means changing our government in stricter reforms, it is on us with laws that support contemporary society. I like that you really apply this piece to modern day problems.

  6. pizza says:

    Isn’t it amazing how we are still debating about the stances of both the Federalist and the Anti federalist? I think its great however, extremely frustrating at the same time. When Kirkpatrick asked who had the better argument, that left me pondering for a very long time. I wanted to be open minded about both sides and really consider their points and concerns. It really had me torn. Even to this day I still feel that I am unsure on which side I would side with. Like I brought up in lecture, my fear about state power is like the absolutely ridiculous proposition Arizona passed last November. How we can disregard the constitution in AZ if we wanted to. Now, will this ever really work, I doubt it, but the fact that it was brought up and it passed worries me. As a young women who’s a minority, living in a state like Arizona with state power and presenting propositions like that is terrifying and not ideal.

  7. fern1007 says:

    Your blog post was really well done, and you ask the reader to consider some important topics. However, when you mentioned who gets to hold the government accountable your answer of SCOTUS gave me pause.
    After the Snowden revelations more Americans have been calling for transparency, and a check to government power. So what recourse do the American people have? Since the Supreme Court is not an elected body, and is for all intents and purposes a lifetime appointment, do they really provide transparency and rein in the government when it tramples on the freedoms of its citizens? SCOTUS itself is shrouded in secrecy. Trying to get a hold of a decision after its come down is extremely difficult, because people, cameras, and recording devices are not allowed in.
    And what about Citizens United? It was such an atrocious decision, but what recourse do we have? We basically have to wait until enough judges retire and for them to be replaced by others who have their heads screwed on right (sorry, United makes me emotional).
    I guess what I am trying to say is that the Supreme Court isn’t our hope for curbing an out of control government. We cannot “vote the bums out.”
    The best hope we have is within the individual. Shocking answer for me to give, I know.
    Individuals need to discuss ideas, vote their consciences, and if need be disobey laws that go against their moral values.

  8. jaine says:

    can i have some examples of today modern political figures who have ant-federalist views and some who have federalist views.

  9. Skye Henry says:

    I feel that I am more of a moderate anti-federalist. I am thankful for our Constitution but realize the crucial importance of limiting its power. And where would we be today without the Bill of Rights? The main problem most anti-federalists had a problem with the Constitution was that it did absolutely nothing to defend the rights that so many had died for–the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Without the Bill of Rights, we would have no freedom of religion, of speech, of expression, freedom to defend ourselves, freedom to a fair trial…

    I feel that still the Constitution with the Bill of Rights is not completely right since today we are seeing what the anti-federalists feared–tyrants undermining the will of the people and taking control, seizing all the power. We still have the appearance of democracy, but it is no longer democracy.

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