This course will combine political theory, political science, and more conventional legal materials in an effort to pin down certain conceptual, empirical, and legal issues attached to the notion of "federalism." What, precisely, constitutes a "federal" political system, in contrast, say, to a "confederation"--think of the Articles of Confederation or, for that matter, the United Nations--or a political system, as modern China's is increasingly said to be, featuring a great deal of decentralization in the making and implementation of policy? What empirical factors explain the rise (or, for that matter, the demise) of federal political systems? Is, for example, secession inevitably a looming possibility in any system of "strong federalism" (and how might one differentiate "weak federalism" from "strong federalism"). Then, of course, there are a host of more properly "legal" questions manifested in the 230 history of the United States. What, if any, are the legally guaranteed prerogatives of the American states, and who, precisely, has final authority to determine what these prerogatives are? And how, by the way, does one discern them? Are they spelled out clearly in the text of the United States Constitution, or must they be inferred? How has the Supreme Court addressed over time a variety of recurrent issues? When is the contest between national and state power "zero sum" and when, instead, can we speak meaningfully of "concurrent" or even "cooperative" federalism?
Initial readings especially will be drawn from Dimitrios Karmis and Wayne Norman, THEORIES OF FEDERALISM: A READER, with the bulk of the remaining assignments coming from Anthony J. Bellia Jr., FEDERALISM. I will also be assigning quite a few of the Federalist papers.
Students will have the option of writing a standard-form final examination (the questions for which will be passed out at the conclusion of the last class) or, with professorial approval, a seminar paper on some specific aspect of the course that is of special interest.
[Administrative Note: Seminar paper will not meet the writing seminar requirement for graduation purposes.]