States’ Rights

The states can retain powers, though not rights.  So "states’ rights" is something of a misnomer, no matter how common its use.  The states have no natural rights.  Their powers are artificial, not natural—they are things made by contract.  The equation "states are to the federal government as people are to the states" mixes apples and oranges.  Citizens alone have rights, in relation to both the states and the federal government.

A Necessary Evil: A History of American Distrust of Government, Gary Wills, 1999, pg. 108