Federal Centralization: A Study and Criticism of the Expanding Scope of Congressional Legislation

By Walter Thompson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
REASONS FOR FEDERAL CENTRALIZATION

VOLUMES have been written in defense or in condemnation of the tendency for the federal government to encroach upon the jurisdiction of the state. A great deal of this literature is illustrative of the tendency of men to justify on rational grounds the attitudes which they have taken on a controversial question. Writers have defended and decried the expanding activities of the federal government. Both sides have sought to justify their position on constitutional and legal grounds. Those in favor of the central government assuming new duties have spoken earnestly about "general welfare"; those opposed have cited the Tenth Amendment. Legalistic controversies of this sort have been of value in casting light upon our constitutional system, but too frequently there has been a failure to realize fully that federal expansion is an actual development to be accounted for rather than a legal concept to be accepted or rejected. Until we face the facts of federal centralization and attempt to account for this tendency we are not in a position to seek a rational solution.

Our constitutional history has been marked by a gradual expansion of the activities of the federal government and by a concomitant diminution of those powers of the states which were formerly regarded as belonging exclusively to them. There has been an evolution from the idea of a Statenbund to that of a Bundesstat. The

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