UChiBLOGo Discusses LaCroix's New Book

Fed of state
Asher Klein
July 19, 2010

The federal government won't be taking Arizona's new law allowing police to inquire about immigration status lying down, filing suit instead. Asserting that "a state may not establish its own immigration policy or enforce state laws in a manner that interferes with the federal immigration laws," the Justice Department's July 6 filing references the Constitution's Supremacy Clause, which says that federal law trumps conflicting state law.

The United States of America v. The State of Arizona is the latest flare-up in a long line of conflicts between the states and Washington, a history that doesn't just go back to the drafting of the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, but, as assistant law professor Alison LaCroix argues in a new book, to ideological debates in the 13 colonies as early as 1760.

The Ideological Origins of American Federalism covers the era from 1760 through though 1810, charting how Americans developed the country's unique brand of government out of struggles for self-representation, rather than developing political philosophy on the spur of the moment at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, as others have written. This approach shows just how resistant many of the colonists were to a strong federal government and that it's a mistake to think of state governments and their federal counterpart as being at odds, said LaCroix last Tuesday during a talk at the Quad Club.

Alison LaCroix