Rethinking the Supreme Court’s Impact on American Federalism and Centralization

35 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2022 Last revised: 30 Sep 2022

See all articles by Michael Dichio

Michael Dichio

University of Utah - Department of Political Science

Ilya Somin

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School

Date Written: January 27, 2022

Abstract

This article challenges the conventional wisdom about of the Supreme Court’s impact on federalism and centralization. In particular, we argue that the centralization impact of the Court is far less pronounced if decisions that uphold federal and state/local laws against challenge are classified as neutral rather than as centralizing and decentralizing, respectively. This reclassification dramatically alters our understanding of the Court’s role in establishing federal-state boundaries of power. After presenting our theoretical arguments, we briefly discuss the potential empirical effects of these revisions. Our analysis calls into question the traditional picture of the Court as a consistent force for centralization. It also challenges the conventional wisdom about the Court’s impact on centralization during specific key periods of American history

Keywords: Federalism, Supreme Court, individual rights, discrimination, Commerce Clause, States, judicial review, legal history, Spending Clause, Constitutional moments

JEL Classification: H10, H11, H70, H77

Suggested Citation

Dichio, Michael and Somin, Ilya, Rethinking the Supreme Court’s Impact on American Federalism and Centralization (January 27, 2022). Publius: The Journal of Federalism (2022), University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 485, George Mason Legal Studies Research Paper No. LS 22-03, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4019506 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4019506

Michael Dichio

University of Utah - Department of Political Science ( email )

260 S. Central Campus Drive, Room 252
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
United States

Ilya Somin (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-8069 (Phone)
703-993-8124 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://sls.gmu.edu/ilya-somin/

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