Nation and States in a Federal System
Many of the Constitution’s most important checks and balances come through its divisions of power—both among the three branches of the federal government and between the federal government and the states. This chapter introduces the specific doctrines that govern those relationships.
As Justice Kennedy wrote, quote, “Federalism was our Nation’s own discovery. The Framers split the atom of sovereignty. It was the genius of their idea that our citizens would have two political capacities, one state and one federal, each protected from incursion by the other,” unquote. [U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (1995) (Kennedy, J., concurring).] In this lesson, we begin our study of federalism by exploring the myriad ways in which the Constitution imposes...