Interstate Compacts

Summary of the Problem

Thomas Jefferson once said that the way to maintain “good and safe government is not to trust it to one, but to divide it among the many.” For many years our nation operated under this philosophy. However, even a mere forty years after writing the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson saw the system begin to corrupt. Over the last 235 years, the power that was once divided among many has steadily coalesced into one place – Washington D.C. – after being transferred from individuals to local authorities, local authorities to state governments, and from state governments to the federal government. Our proud tradition of self-governance has now become a government run by unelected bureaucrats, technocrats, and administrators. As power collects in one place, the rate of corruption increases and the faster the American people lose their freedoms. Currently, the balance of power in America is dangerously lopsided. The only solution to this problem is to bring the decision-making power closer to the people, to once again divide it among the many, and restore self-governance to the citizenry.

Key Points

  • Interstate compacts existed before the Constitution was written, and the Founding Fathers ensured they would continue to exist by writing them into the Constitution.
  • Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution is known as the “Compact Clause” and allows for two or more states to enter into compacts (or contracts) with each other as long as the compacts are approved by Congress.
  • Once ratified by Congress, interstate compacts carry the full weight of federal law, and can even supersede existing federal law.
  • Interstate compacts harness the formal authority of the states, allowing them to bind together, forcing the federal government to give up some of its power.
  • Interstate compacts, used in this manner, would not focus on policy, but rather governance, compelling Americans to ask the question, “Who decides?”
  • When the decisions about policy are made closer to the people, we have a bigger voice in the process and the outcome, promoting citizen-driven government and self-governance.


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