Resolution VI: The virginia plan and authority to resolve collective action problems under article I, section 8

Kurt T. Lash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


American courts have traditionally followed the general principle of limited enumerated federal power in determining the scope of national authority. Recently, however, a group of influential constitutional scholars such as Jack Balkin, Robert Cooter, Andrew Koppelman, Neil Siegel and others have called for doing away with this traditional principle and replacing it with the principle declared in Resolution VI of the Virginia Plan. Originally introduced in the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention, Resolution VI declares that federal power should be construed to reach all matters involving the "general interests of the Union," those to which the "states separately are incompetent" and those affecting national "harmony." Under this principle, Congress has power to regulate all collective action problems of national importance. In support of their claim, Resolution VI proponents argue that the members of the Philadelphia Convention adopted Resolution VI and sent the same to the Committee of Detail with the expectation that the resulting text would be based on this overriding principle of national power, and that the framers accepted the text of Article I, Section 8 as the enactment of Resolution VI. These scholars also claim (or rely on the claim) that Philadelphia Convention member James Wilson publicly declared during the ratification debates that the framers based Article I, Section 8 on the principle of Resolution VI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2123-2164
Number of pages42
JournalNotre Dame Law Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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