The Supreme Court in a Free Society

By Alpheus Thomas Mason; William M. Beaney | Go to book overview
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IV· · ·

ALTHOUGH JUDICIAL REVIEW has been considered America's unique contribution to political science, it may be that our federalism will continue to be of greater influence on other nations. With growing interest in world organization after World War II, attention again centers on American experience. Unfortunately, for those who look upon federalism as the key to world order under law, American history -- unless one takes the long view -- is not altogether reassuring.

The United States is governed by a federal system, a duality in which governmental powers are distributed between central (national) and local (state) authorities. The reason for its adoption are both historical and rational. The Colonies of the revolutionary period regarded themselves as independent sovereignties; even under the Articles of Confederation, little of their power over internal affairs was actually surrendered to the Continental Congress. But local patriotism necessarily yielded before the proved inability of the Confederation to cope with the problems confronting it. When the Constitutional Convention met, compromise between the advocates of a strong central government and supporters of states' rights was inevitable. Federalism also fitted into Madison's basic requirement of free government. It reflected his purpose to so con


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The Supreme Court in a Free Society


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