USA

Covid-19, the USA and the Generation of Constitutional Conflict

Covid-19, the USA and the Generation of Constitutional Conflict

Abstract

The United States has responded ineffectively to the COVID-19 pandemic, raising questions about the capacity of contemporary American federalism to deal with crises.  This article examines the scope of power granted to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution and the legislative power available to states under state constitutions, concluding that these powers are adequate to deal with the pandemic and other emergencies.  It then considers whether having multiple governments confronting the crisis has precluded a coordinated response.  Although scholars have highlighted cooperative federalism in the United States, cooperation is not automatic, and in recent years American political parties have become more ideologically cohesive and more polarized. Federalism has multiplied the opportunities for these parties to advance their objectives or to frustrate those of their adversaries in the overlapping domains in which both states and the federal government operate. The result has been uncooperative federalism.

 

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Posted by Alan Tarr in Policies, 0 comments
From Shades to Fragments: US Federal Democracy under the Trump Administration

From Shades to Fragments: US Federal Democracy under the Trump Administration

Abstract

The controversies linked to the current US president aside, the Trump administration has faced obstacles in implementing its political programmes. This is unsurprising as governing in the United States is, in general, quite difficult. Reasons for this stem from the separation of powers at national level, but also the complexity of US federalism. The manifold division of powers in federal and democratic government render the US by comparison a rather uncoupled federal democracy. Despite these constitutional default settings, the United States has witnessed many instances and phases of cross-branch and cross-level cooperation. However, in recent decades, both American federalism and democracy have become increasingly wrought with tensions, polarization and political conflicts. In this contribution, I aim to show that the overarching pattern of US federal democracy has developed into one of fragmentation. This pattern has surely been exacerbated under the Trump presidency, but it has long been in the making.

 

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Posted by Jared Sonnicksen in Case Studies, 0 comments
The Three Shades of American Federalism

The Three Shades of American Federalism

Abstract

Donald Trump is a transgressive president elected by a minority of voters but elevated to the White House by a quintessential institution of American federalism, the Electoral College. However, the federal system otherwise poses significant barriers to transgressive behaviour because it is a complex mix of dualism, intergovernmental cooperation, and national coercion. The system’s constitutional dualism allows space for autonomous state policy-making. The system’s rule-bound and bureaucratic structures of intergovernmental policy implementation limit the ability of one president to substantially alter this cooperative dimension of the system. The long-run trend, though, is toward greater centralization and federal government coercion of state and local governments.

 

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Posted by John Kincaid in Case Studies, 0 comments