"States' rights" dogwhistle usually signals the loss of rights for somebody:
Such an attempt to change the dialogue from civil rights to states’ rights is nothing new for Southern conservatives. The question of whether the American Civil War was fought over slavery or states’ rights is one that continues to fire up the general public, though historians have long reached a consensus that the states’ right white Southerners wished to protect was slavery, and that without slavery there would have been no war.
Since I am a former history major myself, I really appreciate a solid historical spanking like this. But if you'll also notice, the author wisely avoided making the mistake that many others have (including some very intelligent journalists, by the way), by referring to those 19th Century bigots as "Southern conservatives" and not Democrats. Roles have reversed party-wise, but that screwed up mentality still exists. Here's more: