Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What Caused the Civil War, aka Causes of the Civil War

What Caused the Civil War?

The most controversial question regarding the conflict that claimed more than 620,000 Americans is: what caused the Civil War?

The Civil War caused more than 620,000 deaths, which was 2% of the U.S. population. The conflict produced more deaths than all previous U.S. wars combined. Even a brief introduction to the U.S. Civil War will prompt the student to ask, why was the Civil War fought? There are, however, two dominant positions: 1) slavery caused the Civil War, or 2) states' rights caused the Civil War.

In law, in debate, and in history we should view every subject in context and strive to examine as many facts as possible before arriving at any conclusion. When there are numerous facts available, it is prudent to avoid one or two documents or statements to support one's bias. Speculation and conjecture should be avoided, while the witnesses and their respective testimonies should be admitted and examined.
A quick overview is to reference the question to its era and participants. On one hand, we have the position that slavery was the only cause of the Civil War. On the other hand, we have the position that states' rights caused the Civil War. The argument for states' rights, as derived from the Tenth Amendment, includes the right for the state to secede from the Union. Secession was a direct challenge of state government verses national government. The Tenth Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, was ratified on December 15, 1791, and it states that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
The major participants during the Civil War were the state governments, the national government, and the president, so we will begin by discussing and defining the roles and responsibilities of each participant.
Who is the final arbiter when there are differences, disagreements, and conflicts between state governments and federal government?
The United States Supreme Court is the final arbiter in interpreting the U.S. Constitution and which law or government action violated it.
The Constitution established the Supreme Court as the highest court in the United States. The authority of the Court originates from Article III of the U.S. Constitution.

One of the Supreme Court’s most important responsibilities is to decide cases that raise questions of constitutional interpretation. The Court decides if a law or government action violates the Constitution. This is known as judicial review and enables the Court to invalidate both federal and state laws when they conflict with the Constitution. Since the Supreme Court stands as the ultimate authority in constitutional interpretation, its decisions can be changed only by another Supreme Court decision or by a constitutional amendment.
Judicial review puts the Supreme Court in a pivotal role in the American political system, making it the referee in disputes among various branches of the Federal, as well as state governments, and as the ultimate authority for many of the most important issues in the country.
The Supreme Court exercises complete authority over the federal courts, but it has only limited power over state courts. The Court has the final word on cases heard by federal courts, and it writes procedures that these courts must follow. All federal courts must abide by the Supreme Court’s interpretation of federal laws and the Constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court’s interpretations of federal law and the Constitution also apply to the state courts, but the Court cannot interpret state law or issues arising under state constitutions, and it does not supervise state court operations. See also What Caused the Civil War?

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