The Supreme Court

Separating Government Powers

Today states' rights arguments are a battle cry heard primarily from the right wing of society that believes in weakening federal power. The major battles supporting a strong federal government were won during the time of the Marshall Court, as we discussed in Marshall Court.

During various times between the Marshall Court and the Rehnquist Court, the ebbs and flows of court politics did revitalize the state's right cause, but there hasn't been much interest shown by the Supreme Court in defending states' rights since the battle over the New Deal legislation in the 1930s, as we discussed in Ebbs and Flows of Court Leadership. Most believe the lines in today's battleground were redrawn in 1995 when the Supreme Court struck down the federal Gun Free School Zones Act in United States v. Lopez, which we'll discuss in this section.

Numerous cases since Lopez have shown the Rehnquist Court's preference for states' rights over federal control, but the winds seemed to be shifting again with two shocking cases whose rulings were announced at the end of the Court's 2003 term—Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs (involving the Family Medical Leave Act) and Lawrence v. Texas (striking down the Texas Sodomy Law).

In this section, I'll review the constitutional issues at stake in states' rights cases. Then I'll discuss several recent key Supreme Court decisions.

book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Supreme Court © 2004 by Lita Epstein, J.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

highlights

8 Quick Tips for Curbing Your Family's Screen Time
Setting limits on screen time — and remembering to put down our own devices — is one of the biggest parenting challenges of our time. Use this guide to create healthy screen-time rules for your whole family.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

10 Best Beach-Themed Crafts and Activities
Sand, seashells, and stones can provide hours of family fun. Check out the greatest beach-related activities and crafts for toddlers on up.

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks