Do Citizens Care About Federalism? An Experimental Test

45 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2007

See all articles by Robert A. Mikos

Robert A. Mikos

Vanderbilt University - Law School

Cindy D. Kam

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science

Abstract

The ongoing debate over the political safeguards of federalism has essentially ignored the role that citizens might play in restraining federal power. Scholars have assumed that citizens care only about policy outcomes and will invariably support congressional legislation that satisfies their substantive policy preferences, no matter the cost to state powers. Scholars thus typically turn to institutions - the courts or institutional features of the political process - to cabin congressional authority. We argue that ignoring citizens is a mistake. We propose a new theory of the political safeguards of federalism in which citizens help to safeguard state authority. We also test our theory using evidence from a nationally representative survey experiment that focuses on the timely issue of physician-assisted suicide. We find that citizens are not single-mindedly interested in policy outcomes; trust in state governments and federalism beliefs, on the urging of political elites, reduce their willingness to support a federal ban on physician-assisted suicide.

Suggested Citation

Mikos, Robert A. and Kam, Cindy D., Do Citizens Care About Federalism? An Experimental Test. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 2007, UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 114, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=993262

Robert A. Mikos (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-343-7184 (Phone)
615-322-6631 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/faculty-detail/index.aspx?faculty_id=227

Cindy D. Kam

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science ( email )

VU Station B #351817
Nashville, TN 37235-1817
United States

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