The Public Interest

The survival of moral federalism

Kimberly A. Hendrickson

Summer 2002

IN his recently released book The Implosion of American Federalism, law professor Robert Nagel openly states what many conservatives have long suspected: American federalism is dead, or at least doomed to irrelevance. The era of small government is over, he writes, and the nanny state in full swing. Ours is a politics of nationalized intimacy, demagogic celebrity, and vapid policy prescriptions.  Unlike many conservatives, however, Nagel does not look to the Supreme Court to salvage the situation. The Rehnquist Court’s occasional states’ rights rulings will not save the day. Indeed, the current justices are far more concerned with their institutional prestige than they are with local prerogatives. 

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