Definition of states’ rights noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

 

states’ rights

 noun
noun
BrE
 
; NAmE
 
[plural]
 
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(in the US) the rights of each state in relation to the national government, such as the right to make some laws and to have its own police force Culture States' rights are held under the 10th Amendment to the American Constitution. The rights include the right to have their own criminal laws, laws regarding commerce and taxes, and laws on education, health and social welfare, and also the right to have their own police force. The principle of states' rights is supported by those who think that the central government should not interfere too much in state affairs. It has been supported especially by the states in the South, five of which voted for the States' Rights Party in the 1948 election for President. There has been much argument in US history over the division of responsibility between state and national governments. In recent years the national government has given more rights to the states.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: states’ rights