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George Carey on Federalism

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George Carey on Federalism

George Carey describes constitutional federalism as a divided sovereignty between states and

the central government and the attempt to keep these spheres of sovereignty separate. Each

one has very important powers. Powers held by the state cannot be "invaded" or infringed

upon by the national government. In situations of dispute regarding where to draw the line,

the general government would provide the judgment to resolve the dispute between the two


According to Carey, this version of federalism raises perplexing problems. He questions can an

institution of the national government make an impartial decision when the national govern-

ment is itself a party to the dispute. Carey's argument that the purposes and ends of conserva-

tism are not served by constitutional federalism is because a return of more power to the states

will not solve the problems conservatism seeks to address. He ponders the question, "what

is controversies between the states and national government should arise over extent of their

respective jurisdictions?"

Carey defines political federalism as one that relies upon the political agencies of national

government, principally the Congress, to use its best lights in determining what the relationship

between the states and national government ought to be. It is a form of government that divides sovereign power within two political powers, national and state, each having independent authority.

Political debate surrounding issues of federalism, such as the growing centralization of

authority, decline of the states-both paradigms come into play, often in a mixed fashion. Over

the decades, conservatives embrace both paradigms. The Supreme Court has largely abdicated

its role as impartial arbitrator between the states and national governments.

According to Carey, conservatism is citizens who desire to retain traditional political institutions and value the wisdom of the past. Concerns include "whether the outcome of the political process conforms with what is understood to be the constitutional division of powers"

and the concern for divided sovereignty. In addition, constitutional federalism is



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