In this episode of Constitutionally Speaking, Jay and Luke discuss the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798.
Written by Madison and Jefferson respectively, these were meant to rebut the Federalist party’s efforts to suppress a free press ahead of the election of 1800 via the Sedition Act. Not only do these events mark the first time the potency of the First Amendment was seriously brought into question, they also suggest different ways of resolving constitutional disputes. Jefferson’s idea of state “nullification” is picked up later by the southern slaveocracy, and comes in for justified condemnation. But Madison’s suggestion in the Virginia Resolution of “interposition” is still at work today, though we often do not notice it.