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Justice Brennan and Federalism, 7 Constitutional Commentary 227 (1990)


Federalism is a chameleon-like concept whose appearance

changes with the academic terrain. The concept clearly has something

to do with the allocation of power between national and local

governmental entities, but how this allocation is interpreted

depends upon profession and discipline. Economists, for example,

view federalism as an invitation to specify the most efficient possible

arrangement of national and local power, whereas political

scientists view federalism as a matter of generating descriptive and

perhaps predictive models of these arrangements. For American

constitutional lawyers and judges, however, federalism means something

altogether different; it entails the articulation of constitutional

values that specify how power ought to be allocated between federal

and local governments. These values are incorporated into judicial

decisionmaking. This essay is a study of the place of these values in

the constitutional jurisprudence of Justice William J. Brennan Jr.

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