Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952613 | Print ISBN: 9781412905794 | Online ISBN: 9781412952613| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Max Stephenson Jr.
The American regime was not designed to secure efficiency. Rather, it deeply fragmented political authority and power to protect against the emergence of tyranny. As such, the U.S. constitutional structure divides authority between a central or national government and (now) fifty state governments. The Founders expected that each level of governance would prevent the potential usurpation of citizen rights by the other. If the federal government went too far afield and acted to deprive citizens of their rights, states could be expected to demand that it return to its rightful role. If one or more states denied citizens their rights, the national government could rein them in. In recent decades, for example, the national government has acted to ensure African American and disabled citizens their full political rights against frequent state-level claims to the contrary. The nation's constitution divides political power via federalism and within the central government. The national ...