In this lively historical examination of American federalism, a leading scholar in the field refutes the widely accepted notion that the founding fathers carefully crafted a constitutional balance of power between the states and the federal government. Edward Purcell bases his argument on close analysis of the Constitution's original structure and the ways that structure both induced and accommodated changes over the centuries.
There was no clear agreement among the founding fathers regarding the 'true' nature of American federalism, Purcell contends, nor was there a consensus on 'correct' lines dividing state and national authority. Furthermore, even had there been some true 'original' understanding, the elastic and dynamic nature of the constitutional structure would have made it impossible for subsequent generations to maintain any original or permanent balance. The author traces the evolution of federalism through the centuries, focusing particularly on shifting interpretations founded on political interests. He concludes with insights into current issues of federal power and a discussion of the grounds on which legitimate decisions about federal and state power should rest.
Publisher: Yale University Press
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 454 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 25 mm
Selected by Choice
magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title from 2008.
"Edward A. Purcell, Jr. has written a vigorous critique, grounded in the Age of Madison, of the Rehnquist Court's revival of constitutional federalism. It's a learned, thoughtful book that's great fun to read."-Charles W. McCurdy, University of Virginia
"Purcell's book is an extraordinarily learned historical performance, bringing together an enormous array of secondary literature in a new way to address very topical questions concerning 'originalism' and the vagaries of American federalism."-Clyde S. Spillenger, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law