Chapter

State Courts as Enforcers of Federal Law

in Polyphonic Federalism

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780226736624
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226736648 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226736648.003.0007
State Courts as Enforcers of Federal Law

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This chapter concentrates on state court enforcement of federal law. It describes how the polyphonic perspective fosters an appreciation for the benefits of intersystemic adjudication. State court enforcement of federal law can play a significant role in promoting the goals of federalism. Such intersystemic adjudication leads to a more innovative and resilient jurisdictional system and also safeguards human rights. The state courts and Congress act as partners in realizing federal statutory rights. A polyphonic conception of federalism emphasizes that the dual court system in the United States provides dual means of enforcing rights. An important function of federal law is to prevent state tyranny, but the sovereign immunity doctrines of Seminole Tribe v. Florida and Alden v. Maine threaten to immunize states from the application of federal law. These decisions hinder the enforcement of federal statutes that regulate tyrannic state conduct.

Keywords: state court; federal law; intersystemic adjudication; federalism; human rights; Congress; dual court system; United States; Seminole Tribe; Alden v. Maine

Chapter.  5010 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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