Magazine March 19, 2012, Issue

An Inverted System

The Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, D.C. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)
The Upside-Down Constitution, by Michael S. Greve (Harvard, 518 pp., $39.95)

The Founders of this country, according to lore, created a system in which federal and state power balanced each other. During the New Deal, however, the Supreme Court stopped maintaining that balance. In Wickard v. Filburn (1942), the Court allowed the federal government to shove the states aside to regulate purely intrastate activity (specifically, to tell a farmer to stop growing wheat to feed his cattle). Since that time, the federal government has seized more and more power at the expense of the states. In recent years, however, the Court has tried to move back toward the Founders’ view of

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