Monday, February 23, 2009

Minn. Law Review Publishes Prof. Erbsen Piece on Horizontal Federalism

The Minnesota Law Review recently published an article by Professor Allan Erbsen (Minnesota) entitled Horizontal Federalism. Here is the Abstract:

This Article constructs frameworks for analyzing federalism's undertheorized horizontal dimension. Discussions of federalism generally focus on the hierarchical (or vertical) allocation of power between the national and state governments while overlooking the horizontal allocation of power among coequal states. Models of federal-state relations tend to treat the fifty states as a single aggregate unit, obscuring the fact that individual states often cannot concurrently exercise their powers without infringing the other states' autonomy, frustrating the others' legitimate interests, or burdening the others' citizens. Preserving interstate harmony and protecting citizens from excessive burdens therefore requires limits on how states may wield their shared authority. Constitutional law currently addresses these limits in a piecemeal fashion through doctrines regulating such diverse subjects as personal jurisdiction, restraints on interstate commerce, choice of law, federal subject-matter jurisdiction, interstate compacts, federal common law, tax apportionment, interjurisdictional preclusion, and discrimination based on state citizenship. This Article moves beyond the piecemeal approach by identifying facets of horizontal federalism that transcend doctrinal categories. Considering these common features without the distraction of historically contingent doctrinal labels can help reconfigure jurisprudence that is often unprincipled, unsatisfying, and unstable.

This article can be downloaded from SSRN by visiting


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