NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Restoring the Balance of Power between States and the Federal Government

June 8, 2011

The federal government is tightening its control over the 50 states and the lives of every American.  The U.S. Constitution, however, says states are supposed to be equal partners with the federal government.  State sovereignty -- allowing each state to control its own affairs -- is the cornerstone of that equal partnership and critical to protecting Americans' freedom, says Nick Dranias, director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute. 

Below are 10 ways local policymakers and citizens can restore that balance of power and do what's best for the people of their state.

  • Legislation plus litigation: States can enact laws that protect individual liberty and take the federal government to court to defend those laws.
  • Taxpayer courts that authorize taxpayers to bring lawsuits in state court to stop state and federal government from using tax dollars in ways that violate the Constitution.
  • Expand civil rights laws to protect the constitutional right to state sovereignty, thus allowing individuals to sue state and federal government when they disregard this right.
  • Create constitutional defense councils that have the authority and funding to defend state sovereignty in court.
  • Coordination: State and local governments can limit the impact of new federal regulations by requiring federal agencies to coordinate with existing local laws, regulations, plans and policies.
  • Reinvigorate the reserved powers of the states by passing laws that force the federal government to illegally commandeer state officials in order to enforce federal laws that upset the balance of power between the states and Washington.
  • Empower the people by repealing laws that infringe upon individual rights.
  • Refuse conditional grants.
  • Amend the U.S. Constitution to limit the federal government by proposing amendments that would limit the size, scope and intrusiveness of the federal government.
  • Create interstate compacts.

Source: Nick Dranias, "Federalism DIY: 10 Ways for States to Check and Balance Washington," Goldwater Institute, June 1, 2011.


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