Legal Intern, Manhattan Institute's Center for Legal Policy
Ever so often, the Supreme Court hears a case that has ramifications for our very constitutional structure.These cases reach into the heart of our government to see what strictures remain between the founding generation and our own.
The Court is currently hearing oral arguments in Bond v. United States, a case dealing with fundamental issues of federalism and separation of powers. Specifically, the issue deals with the extent to which Congress can abrogate state police powers pursuant to the mandates of Congress's treaty obligations.
But in a larger sense, this case speaks to the validity of the framework of analysis the Court has employed since its inception. The presumption of constitutional analysis has always begun on the side of federalism and separation of powers; that is, the Constitution created certain enumerated powers to delegate to the federal government and left the majority to the states, so we begin our analysis from where the nexus of the power was meant to lie. In other words, our underlying premise is always to begin with federalism, and inch towards increasing federal power as circumstances might necessitate.
The Bond court has a chance to take another step towards maintaining the presumption of our Constitution by reaffirming the states' role in criminal prosecutions.