The Myth of State Sovereignty

107 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2002

Date Written: February 2002


This Article reviews three different aspects of the constitutional protection of state sovereignty. The first section will introduce the issues arising from disputes over state sovereignty by reviewing the Supreme Court's application of state sovereignty concepts leading up to the constitutional crisis of 1933-36. The second section will discuss the abstract concept of sovereignty and its application in the system of American federalism. The third section of the Article will examine the Court's recent state sovereignty decisions in light of this abstract conception of sovereignty. The third section will place particular emphasis on the logical inconsistencies of the Court's new state sovereignty decisions. These decisions are justified by rationales that seem to incorporate the same broad conceptions of sovereignty described in section two, but in the end the modern Court has stopped short of providing states with the power to adopt and enforce policies that are exclusive and final in the sense that a coherent concept of sovereignty requires. The third section will conclude with a discussion of the implications presented by this anomaly.

Suggested Citation

Gey, Steven G., The Myth of State Sovereignty (February 2002). FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 44. Available at SSRN: or

Steven G. Gey (Contact Author)

Florida State University ( email )

Tallahasse, FL 32306
United States
850-644-5467 (Phone)
850-644-5487 (Fax)

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