Legislative Balancing through Intergovernmental Bargaining

Erin Ryan

in Federalism and the Tug of War Within

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199737987
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918652 | DOI:
Legislative Balancing through Intergovernmental Bargaining

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Chapter Seven proposes a more modest modification to the anti-commandeering rule, requiring judicial deference to consensual state-federal legislative bargaining over federalism entitlements. Constitutional federalism directives can be viewed as default rules that confer jurisdictional entitlements to state and federal actors, but the normative entitlement of a legal rule is always matched with an infrastructural component that designates how and whether the normative entitlement may be shifted. This chapter explores the extent to which federalism doctrine allows consensually negotiated exchange of these entitlements—such as waiver of Eleventh Amendment state sovereign immunity, or state waiver of enumerated powers limitations when accepting spending power deals conditioned on federal policies. It advocates more uniform use of the Calabresi and Melamed “property rule” remedy rule that enables bargaining with entitlements, rather than the inalienability or liability rule alternatives. When the Rehnquist Court created the anti-commandeering entitlement that states hold against Congress (in partially invalidating the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act in New York v. United States), it did not allow for consensual intergovernmental bargaining to shift the entitlement. Using New York as a case study, the chapter proposes that Tenth Amendment entitlements be harmonized with the rest of federalism doctrine to enable consensual legislative bargaining. Leaving the normative part of the anti-commandeering rule in place while enabling states to bargain with their entitlement would yield new possibilities for balanced interjurisdictional governance while retaining the most protective aspects of the rule. The bilateral nature of the exchange ensures that the negotiated balance reflects the interests of both state and federal actors. It also taps unique legislative resources for values-balancing in the fact-intensive policymaking contexts where legislatures outperform courts. By incorporating state and federal judgment, intergovernmental bargaining is preferable to the unilateral federal assertions of power or deference to state prerogative that characterize traditional political safeguards.

Keywords: commandeering; judicial deference; legislative bargaining; state-federal bargaining; intergovernmental bargaining; political bargaining; negotiation; legal entitlements; jurisdiction; eleventh Amendment; sovereign immunity; enumerated powers; spending power; conditional spending; calabresi and Melamed; property rules; liability rules; inalienability rules; remedy rules; rehnquist Court; low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act; new York v. United States; interjurisdictional

Chapter.  27816 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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