This short Essay argues that various attributes we associate with federalism should not be deemed necessary components of federalism as a definitional or normative matter. Using Colorado's recent legalization of marijuana as a case study, it shows how two such attributes-an autonomous realm of state action and independent state officials with distinctive interests-can be pulled apart. State officials often further their interests and effectively oppose federal policy when they participate in the same statutory scheme as federal actors instead of operating in a separate, autonomous sphere. At the same time, state officials frequently rely on the autonomous lawmaking and executive powers of state governments to advance a decidedly national agenda, acting in cooperation with federal officials rather than independently of them. Unbundling federalism helps us get a purchase on these pervasive practices instead of dismissing them as not federalism.
Unbundling Federalism: Colorado's Legalization of Marijuana and Federalism's Many Forms,
U. Colo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholar.law.colorado.edu/lawreview/vol85/iss4/4