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Winter 2006

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After several years during which federalism was rarely a prominent or explicit issue in political debates, it was in several ways thrust into the public consciousness in 2005. It was not that the president or Congress ceased sacrificing state and local interests to substantive policy goals, as shown by the costly REAL ID Act, stringent new federal requirements in the Temporary Aid to Needy Families reauthorization, and congressional intervention in the Terri Schiavo case. However, Hurricane Katrina, and particularly the delayed and ineffective intergovernmental response, generated substantial debate about the appropriate federal role in disaster relief. In addition, state and local governmental opposition to the No Child Left Behind Act intensified and generated significant attention during the year, particularly as a result of a Utah statute asserting the precedence of state over federal law and a Connecticut lawsuit against the act. Meanwhile, state governments continued to address a number of policy problems that federal officials were unable or unwilling to confront, especially regarding environmental, health-care, and labor issues. Finally, although the Supreme Court in 2005 continued its recent (2003–2004) trend of pulling back somewhat from its late-1990s Congress-curbing decisions, federalism issues figured quite prominently in the senate confirmation hearings for Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.


This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Publius: The Journal of Federalism following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Dinan, J. & Krane, D. (2006). The State of American Federalism, 2005: Federalism Resurfaces in the Political Debate. Publius: the Journal of Federalism, 36, 3, 327-374. is available online at: