States rights- the idiots up in the Utah legislature who want to usurp all of the federal land in Utah for the state to take control of. I hear it used in terms of my field- education- quite often in context with No Child Left Behind laws.
I mentioned states rights because its something that left the lexicon of American politics for a long time for good reason but Reagan brought it back. States' rights first emerged as a phrase in American politics in the 40s as a push back against the budding Civil Rights Movement.
By the 60s Strom Thurmond (probably the most famous segregationist) started a political party called States' Rights with the specific goal of keeping segregation legal. They started to rewrite history at this time to get people on their side saying things like "the Civil War was fought over states' rights" and it worked. I can say for a fact that in school that's what we learned (and this is 8th grade I'm thinking of so as recently as 2007 this is what kids learned in major parts of the country).
Now States' rights is meant to mean a ton of things like ending the Department of Education (what you referred to a little with No Child Left Behind) or in the case of places like Indiana allowing people to discriminate against homosexuals. It's used as a buffer against legitimate criticism. "No I don't want to discriminate against homosexuals I just care about states' rights."
No it didn't. States' rights first emerged most likely in the 10th amendment of the Constitution which is intrinsic with the formation of the US. This nation started out under the Articles of Confederation and the 10th Am. is loosely based on a provision of the Articles that stated thusly:
Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.
States' rights have always been a thing, if not the
thing, even the name of the country reflects that (United
States of America, not just America). Unlike countries like the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (which is neither Democratic, the People's or a Republic), the adjectives of 'United' and 'States' used to be understood as actually accurate. Now it isn't because the effing Federalists put us on this path towards the statist utopia in which we now reside.
I'm not going into the Civil War aspect of your post (it won't end well) suffice to say that your interpretation of the Civil War, like the vast majority of people taught in this subject, is extremely reductionist and monolithic. Saying "the Civil War was fought over State's rights" is no more an errant statement than saying "the Civil War was fought over slavery." They're both accurate depending on what parameters you're setting. Jefferson Davis, the President of the CSA and thus leader of the Southern states attempting to secede from the Union which led to the bloodiest war in the nation's history, was never tried for treason
. Why not? State's rights.