Advanced Topics in Liberty
Federalism and Constitutions
The purpose of this conference is to explore the meaning of federalism, looking primarily at documents related to the American Founding, but extending it to the debate over Union in the 1830s, to current debates about federalism related to the European Union, and to the “federalism” decisions of the Rehnquist court.
Guiding questions will be: What did the Founders, both Federalists and Anti-Federalists, consider to be the nature of the federal union? Are their views consistent or inconsistent with those expressed in the 1830s, as the signs of the conflict that led to war in 1861 were becoming apparent? How are the debates of the Founders relevant to the debates in the United States and Europe about the nature of federalism?
The structure of the readings is as follows. First, the students will review several founding documents, before moving on to consider various Publius essays on the nature of the federal union, national versus state power, etc. Then they will look in two sessions at criticisms of centralized power, first in several Anti-Federalist writings, as well as in the Webster-Hayne debates and Calhoun’s “Fort Hill Address.” Finally, the students will explore contemporary issues related to federalism, starting with the (now-defunct) European Constitution’s protocol on Subsidiarity, followed by two or three Supreme Court cases with implications for federalism: Lopez, Morrison, Ashcroft v. Raich, and Kelo v. New London. The first overturn Congress’s Gun-Free School Zones Act, the second the Violence against Women Act, the third regards California’s medical marijuana law, and the fourth regards the use of eminent domain.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Georg Vanberg is an Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Undergraduate Honors Program in the Department of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research focuses on comparative political institutions. He is particularly interested in constitutional and judicial politics as well as in coalition theory. He teaches courses on judicial and constitutional politics, formal modeling, and research design.
Session I: Revolution and the Constitution
- Declaration of Independence
- Articles of Confederation
- The Federalist, Numbers 1, 9-10
Session II: Federalist Ideas
- The Federalist, Numbers 15-20, 37-39, and 45-46
- Session III: The Anti-Federalist Response
- The Anti-Federalist, edited by Herbert Storing, 32-43, 108-117, 201-223
Session IV: The End of Federalism?
- The Webster-Hayne Debate on the Nature of the Union, 73-80 and 123-144.
- Union and Liberty: The Political Philosophy of John C. Calhoun, 367-400
Session V: Federalism Today
- James Buchanan's "Europe's Constitutional Opportunity" in Europe's Constitutional Future, 1-20
- Clint Bolick's European Federalism: Lessons from America, 9-50
- "Title III Union Competences, Articles I-XI, Fundamental Principles" from the European Constitution
- "Protocol on the Application of the Principles of Subsidiarity and Proportionality" from the European Constitution
Session VI: The Constitution and Liberty
- Excerpts from United States v. Morrison
- Excerpts from Ashcroft/Gonzales v. Raich
- Kelo v. New London