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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 160896 Find in a Library
Title: Address of the Honorable Arnold I. Burns Deputy Attorney General of the United States Before the American Bar Association Annual Meeting 1987 Section of Urban, State and Local Government Law: Bicentennial Showcase Program
Author(s): A I Burns
Date Published: 1987
Page Count: 15
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/NCJRS
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/NCJRS
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This address examines issues in the jurisdictions of State and Federal courts in a multi-level governmental system under the U.S. Constitution.
Abstract: Within our constitutional structure, conflicts over the proper role of the local and Federal governments will inevitably continue to arise. This is illustrated in the dramatic shifts in Tenth Amendment jurisprudence over recent years. In Maryland v. Wirtz (1968), the U.S. Supreme Court held that Congress' regulatory power over the States under the commerce clause was plenary and that the States had no special status in the constitutional structure. In 1976, however, the Supreme Court shifted position and expressly overruled "Wirtz." In National League of Cities v. Usery, the Court revitalized the Tenth Amendment and held that when States acted in their sovereign capacity, they enjoyed a special protection against congressional regulation under the commerce power. Less than 10 years later (1985), the Court reversed itself again. In Garcia v. San Antonio Transit Authority, a divided court overruled its landmark "Usery" decision and held that the States' protection against overreaching by the central government could be found in the political process, but not in the U.S. Constitution. These unusual and dramatic shifts in the Court's jurisprudence are used to support the author's fundamental thesis. He argues that cases which implicate federalism principles are not easy; they do not lend themselves to a simplistic result-oriented approach, but instead require intellectual honesty, careful thought, and an attention to the facts and the law.
Main Term(s): Courts
Index Term(s): Federal courts; Jurisdiction; State courts; US Supreme Court decisions
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