The Implementation of
Charitable Choice in the States
THE DIVISION OF POWER BETWEEN FED- ERAL AND STATE LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT in the United States has historically been contested and ill defined. The one constant has been the steady growth of central govern- ment authority, the reasons for which are multiple: As indicated in chapter 1, the Fourteenth Amendment required states to protect the basic civil liberties of their residents, thus nationalizing most of the Bill of Rights; federal measures like Prohibition were enacted to deal with moral evils perceived to be extensive (or at any rate, not localized); the states lacked resources sufficient to deal with the challenges of the Depression; and continuing advances in sci- ence and technology—particularly communication and transpor- tation—increasingly necessitated uniform federal standards for interstate commerce, environmental protection, food safety, and numerous other aspects of our interrelated activities.
For sixty years following the New Deal, Congress and the Su- preme Court accepted the necessity of federal responses to such challenges, and they were “energetic proponents of centralization” (Conlan and de Chantal 2001). More recently, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice William Rehnquist signaled its concern that the central government may have acquired too much power, and it decided a series of cases intended to limit the reach of Congress and uphold the prerogatives of the states. The Court’s change of direction has been sufficiently dramatic that an article in Govern- ing magazine (appropriately titled “Governor Rehnquist”) asserted that the Court had ushered in “the most fundamental debate over federalism since the 1930’s” (Kettl 1999).