“[O]ne familiar with the profound debates that ushered our Federal Constitution into existence is bound to respect those who remain loyal to the ideals and dreams of ‘Our Federalism.’ The concept does not mean blind deference to ‘States’ Rights’ any more than it means centralization of control over every important issue in our National Government and its courts. The Framers rejected both these courses. What the concept does represent is a system in which there is sensitivity to the legitimate interests of both State and National Governments, and in which the National Government, anxious though it may be to vindicate and protect federal rights and federal interests, always endeavors to do so in ways that will not unduly interfere with the legitimate activities of the States. It should never be forgotten that this slogan, ‘Our Federalism,’ born in the early struggling days of our Union of States, occupies a highly important place in our Nation’s history and its future.”
– Justice Hugo Black, Younger v. Harris
Our Federalism. Our dear Federalism. Justice Black described this vaunted principle when deciding in 1971 that federal courts must show some restraint when interfering with state criminal prosecutions.
“Our Federalism,” though, only works when you work it. The many conservatives (myself included) who trumpet these principles in briefs, articles, and opinions ought to view this not simply as an academic matter but as a personal political responsibility as citizens.
For all the caterwauling on all sides about national politics and for all the petticoat-clutching over Our Federalism, it is shameful when those same folks can’t name a single member of their city council or school board or state supreme court. . . .