Historically, federalism acted as a safeguard of American freedoms. Under the Constitution, the federal government was assigned specific limited powers and most government functions were left to the states. Unfortunately, policymakers and courts have mainly discarded federalism in recent decades.

More on Federalism


Fair-Weather Federalists

By Adam Bates. U.S. News & World Report (Online). March 15, 2017.

Marijuana Policy Is Best Left up to the States

By Michael D. Tanner. National Review (Online). March 1, 2017.

How Enforcing Trump’s Immigration Actions Could Hurt Public Safety

By Jonathan Blanks. Washington Post. February 17, 2017.

Cato Studies

The Federal Emergency Management Agency: Floods, Failures, and Federalism

By Chris Edwards. Policy Analysis No. 764. November 18, 2014.

Public Attitudes toward Federalism: The Public’s Preference for Renewed Federalism

By John Samples and Emily Ekins. Policy Analysis No. 759. September 23, 2014.

Libertarianism and Federalism

By Ilya Somin. Policy Analysis No. 751. June 30, 2014.


Federalism, Then and Now

Roger Pilon. inFocus Quarterly. Winter 2015.

Dragooning State Officials into Federal Service

Roger Pilon. Federalism and Separation of Powers News. Fall 1996.

Public Filings

United States v. Metcalf

By Ilya Shapiro. Legal Briefs. December 21, 2016.

Romanoff Equities, Inc. v. United States

By Robert H. Thomas, Damon Key Leong, Luke Wake, Karen Harned, Ilya Shapiro, & Trevor Burrus. Legal Briefs. November 16, 2016.

Christie v. NCAA

By Joshua P. Thompson, Jonathan Wood, Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, & Sam Kazman. Legal Briefs. November 14, 2016.

Cato Reviews & Journals

Volte-Face: Federalism in the Age of Trump

Robert A. Levy. Policy Report. March/April 2017.

25. Fiscal Federalism

Cato Handbook for Policymakers. Cato Handbook for Policymakers, 8th Edition (2017).

Immigration and the Public Coffers

Policy Report. September/October 2014.


“A Loaded Weapon”: The Growth of Executive Power

Featuring Gene Healy. May 18, 2016. Capitol Hill Briefing.

James Buckley on Reviving Federalism

Featuring Roger Pilon and Chris Edwards. December 1, 2014. Capitol Hill Briefing.

Roots of Liberty: Unlocking the Federalist Papers

Featuring Roger Pilon. August 27, 2014. Book Forum.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Fiscal Federalism

By Chris Edwards. June 2013.