October 23-25, 2015
Application Deadline: September 30, 2015
Federalism is one of the animating themes in American Constitutional history and politics. Born of compromise at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, it was the primary focus of the debate surrounding the ratification of the Constitution. The debate continued during the formative years of the Republic. The Civil War was, in part, a fight over the relationship of the national government and the states. The civil rights movement of the mid twentieth century has been described as a struggle between those seeking equal rights and those seeking to protect "states' rights." The debate over the proper balance of power between Washington and the states continues to this day.
This seminar will explore the roots of that debate, how it has shaped American politics and history, and why the political principle of federalism still matters. For many, a respect for the authority of the states is essential to the maintenance of freedom and self-government. For others, states have come to be viewed primarily as administrative units of the national government. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in between. Understanding federalism can help us better understand many contemporary political disputes and perhaps provide some insights into how to resolve them.