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Federalism 3.0

Heather Gerken proposes a federalism research agenda for the twenty-first century. According to Gerken, the legacies of the New Deal and the civil rights movements — which she describes as Federalism 1.0 and Federalism 2.0 — have created the intellectual framework used to understand federalism. Gerkins contends that this framework (or, “operating system”) is outdated. She proposes a new OS that recognizes that, in the regulatory context, the states are not 50 independent laboratories of democracy; rather, states and the federal government now work shoulder-to-shoulder in the regulatory sphere. According to Gerken, there are now two centers of power: one is red, one is blue. Gerken thinks that constitutional law’s focus on sovereignty as the means to understand constitutional law misunderstands the nature of the contemporary federal-state relationship. Since policy is thoroughly integrated in the federal system, the focus should be instead on what contributes to a healthy cooperative relationship between the federal and state governments. Read more here.