Letter from the Editors

Justice System Journal, January 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

Letter from the Editors


This particular issue of Justice System Journal bears three distinguishing characteristics.

First, the issue contains only full-length articles. Second, with one exception these articles were all revised from papers presented at a national conference on Federalism and the Courts conducted at the University of Georgia, February 23-24, 2001. Third, there are coeditors, with Stephen Wasby accepting this role after the conference in Athens, Georgia.

As every judge, court administrator, and scholar knows, the dual court structure in the United States and the inevitability of federal-state court interaction in that structure ensure that federalism will always prompt an assessment of both the role and performance of state and federal judiciaries. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the litigation that followed the 2000 presidential election between George Bush and Albert Gore. The national conference, Federalism and the Courts, was organized before the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore, but that particular court decision certainly highlighted the centrality of the theme of both the conference and this issue. Since that time, the popular and academic media have been filled with varied analyses of federal-state court relationships, and other conferences on judicial federalism have been conducted. There is no doubt, then, that the theme of this particular issue of the Journal is both timely and significant.

The seven articles published in this issue all deal, directly or indirectly, with some dimension of federal-state court relationships and interaction. In the first article, Gerald Baier offers an analysis of the doctrines of federalism as developed by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Canada. This comparative scrutiny demonstrates that judicial doctrine carries profound implications for the organization and operation of courts and illustrates that the issue of judicial federalism cuts across national boundaries. Following Baier's analysis is Peter Appel's consideration of federalism in environmental protection. Arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions over the last six years have altered the relationship between the federal government and the states, Appel directs attention to the Court's interpretation of the commerce clause and to four dimensions of environmental protection policy. Appel concludes that our consideration of federalism must extend beyond the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court and that courts may well be unable to settle all of the many facets of federal-state relations in a given policy area.

Turning more explicitly to the 2000 presidential election and the litigation it spawned, Michael Solimine considers recent developments in the concept of judicial federalism and argues that the revival of interest in this topic has already stimulated considerable academic research. Solimine concludes that Bush v. Gore is not likely to prompt substantial shifts in our understanding of judicial federalism and also identifies potentially fruitful avenues for future social scientific research on the topic. Picking up on Solimine's heuristic conclusion, Rebecca Salokar and Kimberly Shaw direct attention to legislative and judicial relationships in Florida after Bush v. Gore. This article, prepared after the conference, deals more with separation than division of powers. The authors' explicit attention to judicial politics in post-2000 Florida, however, certainly bears on the general theme of judicial federalism, raises important issues related to judicial independence, and marshals empirical evidence on the topic.

The last three articles in this issue offer substantial empirical analyses of several dimensions of judicial federalism and, in the process, pick up on Solimine's exhortation to study federal-state court interaction and relationships. …

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