The Evolution Of Federalism

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One of few Constitutionally ascribed institutions, federalism, and its various forms, has influenced the lives of all Americans since 1787. Such an ubiquitous determinant of American government, civil rights, and United States (U.S.) democracy as federalism warrants constant scrutiny and reevaluation. In contemplating federalism’s original intent, its constitutional safeguards, and its varying manifestations and interpretations concerning the three aforementioned factors (government, rights, democracy), this essay finds that while federalism’s historical remodeling has weakened democracy over time, its evolution follows a generally gainful track that is not worth undoing or changing.
A. FEDERALISM AND AMERICAN GOVERNMENT
Much of the discourse
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FEDERALISM AND THE CONTENT OF RIGHTS
Though the character of government as produced by federalism is undoubtedly impactful, federalism influences the lives of Americans in, debatably, more formidable ways. The content of American rights varies as the Constitution is amended and as the Supreme Court’s Constitutional interpretation evolves. The former of these two influences is a fixed process, so this essay will examine how federalism correlates with, and possibly causes, adjustments in the latter. Ultimately, major changes in Constitutional interpretation align strikingly with major changes in federalism. The Supreme Court played as much a role in preserving dual federalism as did Congress, the President, and the states. Several cases illustrate the jurisprudential solidification of the distinct separation between federal and state governments under dual federalism. In the 1833 case Barron v. Baltimore, which asked if the Fifth Amendment denied Baltimore the right to seize John Barron’s private property for public use, Chief Justice John Marshall, writing for a unanimous court and siding with the mayor of Baltimore, held, “The Constitution was ordained and established by the people of the United States for themselves, for their own government, and not for the government of the individual states.”5 The Barron decision conveys the remarkable autonomy that states possessed in the dual federalism era, in which states were not even bound by the Bill of Rights. Chief Justice Marshall’s dictum thus afforded states similarly autonomous jurisdiction of the content of their citizens’ rights. Barring the decade between the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment and the implementation of cooperative federalism, state-by-state variability in female voting rights demonstrates the state’s authority to independently modify the rights of its

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