The Supreme Court should remind New Jersey why the U.S. discarded the Articles of Confederation, Washington Post ($)

Opinion by George F. Will • June 19, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. EDT

The Supreme Court justices might be bemused, or depressed, by this question they implicitly will consider in Thursday’s conference: Should they review — the answer is yes — a decision by a lower court that evidently skipped history class the day the teacher explained that a huge defect of the Articles of Confederation was the states’ powers to impede the free flow of interstate commerce? This led to replacing the Articles with the Constitution, which gives Congress responsibility for regulating such commerce.

Were the Supreme Court to allow the lower court’s decision to stand, this would ignore a lesson the Constitution’s Framers learned the hard way by living through what is called the “critical period” of U.S. history. John Quincy Adams used this phrase, which later was adopted by scholars to describe the years 1781 to 1789, between the Revolutionary War and ratification of the Constitution, when George Washington said the states were held together by “a rope of sand.” Connecticut imposed duties on imports from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania had hostile trade relations with Delaware and, according to a historian, “New Jersey, pillaged at once by both her greater neighbors, was compared to a cask tapped at both ends.” MORE>>


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