Judicial Federalism and the Diffusion of Power

JMC fellow Matthew Brogdon was recently published in Publius: The Journal of Federalism. In his article, he explores the history of judicial federalism in America.


The Formation of Judicial Federalism in the United States


The central feature of American judicial federalism is the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction over state courts. Conventionally, we tend to view controversy over judicial federalism through the lens of the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian eras, in which this appellate oversight functioned to consolidate the power of national institutions against the periphery and defenders of states’ rights promoted the independence of state courts from federal oversight. But the deliberative process that attended the formation of the federal judiciary exhibited a more complex dynamic that presented the framers of the Constitution and of the first judiciary act with a range of possible institutional arrangements. Given the available alternatives, the Supreme Court’s appellate oversight was not so much an aggression on states’ rights as a concession to those wary of consolidation. Rather than being contested, it in fact formed a ground of consensus as a modest means of ensuring federal supremacy.

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Matthew Brogdon is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Texas at San Antonio. His areas of specialization are Public Law and Courts, American Constitutional and Political Development, American Political Thought, and Politics and Literature.

At UTSA, Dr. Brogdon teaches undergraduate courses on Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties, Federal Courts, Judicial Politics, Jurisprudence, American Political Thought, and African American Political Thought as well as graduate seminars related to public law, jurisprudence, and American political thought. Prior to coming to UTSA, he also taught courses on Slavery in American Political Development, Public Policy and the Courts, Modern Political Philosophy, and the Presidency.

Dr. Brogdon earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from Baylor University where he held the R.W. Morrison Fellowship for the Study of the Constitution and was named Richard D. Huff Distinguished Graduate Student. He grew up in the Florida panhandle, receiving M.A. and B.A. degrees in political science from the University of West Florida.

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