The work made sense as a century of legalization (here and here) and judicialization (here and here) forces more and more people worldwide to bump up against aspects of aspects of the U.S: legal system. The system is a complex amalgamation of distinct approaches to legalization, and the mechanics of its implementation, that tends to be mystifying to everyone, even individuals trained in law elsewhere. Most people tend to be hard pressed to explain the U.S. legal system either to non-lawyers or to foreigners, even sophisticated foreign lawyers or jurists, or for that matter to each other. Most would find it difficult unravel the distinct strands of law in the United States, each of which deeply embedded within their own internally coherent systems of generation, interpretation and application. The object of the book is to make the elements of law within the U.S. legal system more accessible and easier to invoke.
This set of posts provide interested readers with a more detailed description-summary of each chapter along with teaching objectives. After these descriptions I will circulate a chapter by chapter based draft Teacher's Manual. Comments welcome for all.
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Summary book organization and Chapter 15 Summary follows.
The Legal Structures of Federalism: The 9th and 10th Amendments of the Federal Constitution
B. Problem 15--U.S. Constitution Amendments IX, XC. The Federal-State Interplay, the 9th and 10th Amendments of the Federal Constitution
--South Dakota v. Dole
--Kramer, Understanding FederalismD. Learning Objectives --
--McDonnell v. United States
--Notes and Questions
--Morrison v. United States
--Notes and Questions
--Gonzalez v. Raich
--Notes and Questions
--A Note on Gonzalez
The student has been considering the way that law shapes the exercise of politics within the federal government. The legalization of politics is are the fundamental premise of the American Republic. The judicialization of the management of this legalized politics is its grounding technique. Within the federal government, this legalization-judicialization produces a cage of horizontal constraints on the exercise of governmental authority, which is divided into its executive, legislative and judicial components.
The student has come to understand that this legalization does not merely manage the exercise of political power through law; legalization also has begun to define the relationship between the organs of state power and the availability of protection of fundamental rights. That relationship itself evidences the great tension between the embrace of notions of popular sovereignty in the United States and its expression only through law (starting with the constitution as its highest expression) on the one hand, and the embrace of the principle that government is formed out of higher law which itself may not be constrained by government and its law (even its constitution).
In the United States the cage of law also has a very pronounced vertical dimension. That vertical dimension has two parts. The first is the construction of a law of exercising administrative power by agencies to which power to assert quasi executive, legislative and judicial power has been delegated. That was the subject of consideration in Chapter 14. The other is federalism, which is the subject of this Chapter. Federalism constitutes a cluster of political premises, given form through law that posits that the political power vested in the general government did not represent the entire scope of exercisable political power. What remained after the delegation to the federal government, all residual political power, was reserved to the states. That reservation of power was residual in the sense that it consisted of all of the power not explicitly ceded to the federal government in the constitution. In this sense, federalism constitutes the principal method for expressing the vertical constraints on the authority of either federal or state governments to make and enforce law. Vertical constraints on the federal government are not merely suggested by the residuary power of the states. Federalism is itself an expression of the popular will to organize the state, one in which popular sovereignty might remain potent. Neither the state nor the federal government were ceded all of the political power of the political community for the benefit of which government was created. But this ultimate residual reservation is both undefined and unspecified in the legal structures giving governments their form in the United States. Though held by the people, those principles of vertical residuary power is suggested by the 9th and 10th Amendments to the federal constitution.
The federal constitution does not refer to federalism; it is nowhere mentioned as such in the federal constitution. But the constitution, by its terms, embodies the federalism concept in the way in which it structures the relationship between the general government—of limited powers over the territories of all of the states, and of the states themselves over portions of the territories of the United States. Originally quite broad in scope, the extent of the power reserved to the states has been shrinking, especially since the end of the beginning of the 20th century. And the nature of the means through which states may preserve their legislative and governance prerogatives has been changing as well. It is to those issues of joint lawmakers over a single territory—the notion of federalism and its legalization, that the materials in this chapter consider.
Traditionally, these vertical power relationships were politically constrained by the structure of the federal government itself and the politics of its operation. The heart of that structural political constraint was meant to be built into the organization of the Senate, which was to represent the political interests of the states in the federal government. Effectively, in theory at least, before the beginning of the 20th century federal legislative action could not be undertaken without the consent of a majority of states represented in the Senate (Article I, § 3, Clauses 1 and 2). Senators then were selected by their respective states, and ostensibly beholden to the state leaders who help select the Senator. That structural constraint depended on the ability of states to control their Senators. Our early history suggested that many states over many years might not have taken advantage of the structural protections afforded under the constitution. “Reform” was both inevitable and of a legal character.
That relationship has been altered with the adoption of the 17th Amendment, which provided for the direct election of senators. The constitutional change that brought the direct election of Senators appeared to increase the necessity for a greater legalization of the relationship between the federal government and the states as well. Yet, at the same time, the belief in the power of political structures to serve as a sufficient restraint continued to have substantial influence in law and policy. It is to that legalization that this chapter turns. For that purpose, we consider the legal position of the subsidiary units of government in the United States and their relationship to federal power. This relationship is drawn through a legalization of the principles of “federalism.” Those principles, themselves, suggest the elasticity of American law. In the course of the reform of federalism from the end of the 19th century, the power of the 9th and 10th Amendments to serve as independent sources of popular power has withered. Today both are understood as no more than truisms, whose effects are felt in the form of judicial principle in interpreting the limits of the exercise of federal governmental authority on a case by case basis.
With this chapter we end our short review of the architecture of the American law-state. We have come to understand that law occupies a space both within and outside the government (and to some extent outside the state as well). We have seen how American “higher law” has been used to structure the government, constrain the scope of its substantive powers and manage the application of politics to the operation of the state apparatus through law. We have seen how the power of government has been fractured horizontally in three functionally distinct categories, and vertically between a general government of specified powers and a residual power of government exercised by states whose own residual power is made subordinate to and exercised under the leadership of the general government. We have examined the application of notions of rule of law not just to understand the limits of government’s power (under law) to deprive individuals of their life, liberty, or property interests, but also how law has been used as structural constraints on politics. That “higher law” of the constitution is grounded in fundamental principles—separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism—that are in turn principled manifestation of fundamental political premises of the American union, a premise that government must be efficient, but also that governmental power must not be aggregated sufficiently to make tyranny (arbitrary government not grounded on law) possible. To that end we have begun to understand the political use of law by courts to ensure fidelity to the legal basis of government. And we have been introduced to two important interpretive approaches used by courts—formalism and functionalism. These we have explored in the application of law to resolve disputes about the boundaries of legislative and presidential power, of the place of administrative agencies within the divided power system of the federal government, and the tension between the extent of the power of direct or popular democracy and federal constraints on law making (even when a majority of people desire it).Learning Objectives.(1) The student should be familiar with the 9th and 10th Amendments of the Constitution.
(2) The student should be able to consider whether federalism in the United States should be a dynamic or a static concept by working through a problem.
(3) The student will examine the elasticity of the concept of federalism and the residual nature of structural federalism protection through a consideration of the Commerce Clause and its use and interpretation by Congress and the courts.
(4) The student should be aware of the constraints and limitations of federalism and its effects on State and federal power through a reading of Morrison v. United States and Gonzalez v. Raich.