United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 27 (1995)

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Cite as: 514 U. S. 549 (1995)

Kennedy, J., concurring

responsibilities. Yet the powers conferred upon the Federal Government by the Constitution were phrased in language broad enough to allow for the expansion of the Federal Government's role." New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144, 157 (1992) (emphasis deleted).

It does not follow, however, that in every instance the Court lacks the authority and responsibility to review congressional attempts to alter the federal balance. This case requires us to consider our place in the design of the Government and to appreciate the significance of federalism in the whole structure of the Constitution.

Of the various structural elements in the Constitution, separation of powers, checks and balances, judicial review, and federalism, only concerning the last does there seem to be much uncertainty respecting the existence, and the content, of standards that allow the Judiciary to play a signifi-cant role in maintaining the design contemplated by the Framers. Although the resolution of specific cases has proved difficult, we have derived from the Constitution workable standards to assist in preserving separation of powers and checks and balances. See, e. g., Prize Cases, 2 Black 635 (1863); Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U. S. 579 (1952); United States v. Nixon, 418 U. S. 683 (1974); Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U. S. 1 (1976); INS v. Chadha, 462 U. S. 919 (1983); Bowsher v. Synar, 478 U. S. 714 (1986); Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc., ante, p. 211. These standards are by now well accepted. Judicial review is also established beyond question, Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137 (1803), and though we may differ when applying its principles, see, e. g., Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833 (1992), its legitimacy is undoubted. Our role in preserving the federal balance seems more tenuous.

There is irony in this, because of the four structural elements in the Constitution just mentioned, federalism was the unique contribution of the Framers to political science and political theory. See Friendly, Federalism: A Foreword, 86


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