An exploration of the virtues and defects of federalism as it has developed from a variety of perspectives that include historical, constitutional, economic, social and political considerations. Using the dialectical form adopted by advocates trying a case before a court, the author examines the strongest arguments on the two prinicpal sides of the issue but also probes the potential value of the dialectical process itself.
David L. Shapiro is William Nelson Cromwell Professor at Harvard Law School. He is the editor of "The Evolution of a Judicial Philosophy: Selected Opinions and Papers of Justice John M. Harlan" and coauthor of Hart and Wechsler's" The Federal Courts and the Federal System "and has published widely in scholarly journals."
Part 1 The case for strong national authority: concepts of federalism impose no sifnificant constitutional limits on the exercise of national authority or on the displacement of state law and regulation by national law; the existence of significant state autonomy is economically counterproductive. Part 2 The case for federalism as a constraint on national authority: the history and text of the constitution, as well as developments during and since its ratification, guarantee both the existence of the states and their right to play a significant role in the federal system; the preservation of a significant policymaking role for the states is not only constitutionally required but also economically, socially and politically desirable. Part 3 Striking the balance - federalism and dialogue: the constitutional and structural bases of our federal system; the exercise of discretion.