Harmonious interstate relations in general are a central feature of successful federal systems that have constitutions allocating substantial powers to member states. Conflicts, however, arise in these systems and can be resolved by means of interstate cooperation that in the United States may assume the form of interstate compacts and formal interstate administrative agreements. The alternatives in the United States to these methods of conflict resolution are adjudication by the U.S. Supreme Court if one or more states bring an original jurisdiction suit against another state(s), or congressional preemption provided Congress is authorized to employ a delegated power capable of resolving the dispute. It is apparent Congress may not resolve, for example, a boundary dispute, but may grant its consent to an interstate compact establishing the boundary line(s) between two states.
Preemption dates to 1790, but had relatively minor effect on the powers of states until a preemption revolution commenced in 1965 with Congress increasingly removing all or certain powers from states, and by extension local governments, in a number of regulatory fields. 1 Not surprisingly, the question of whether Congress should employ its preemption powers to solve a nationwide problem is highly political and typically involves important interest groups. Total preemption of state regulatory authority has the advantage of establishing uniform policies throughout the nation, but limits the ability of individual states to innovate new programs to solve problems that may be adopted by sister states. In a number of instances, an interstate compact and/or formal administrative agreement could be employed to achieve the goals of a preemption statute.
Political scientists generally have paid relatively little attention to the politics of interstate relations in recent decades although such relations af-