Federalism Pros & Cons #3

This week, we continue with Part 4 of 4: the pros and cons of federalism in relation to other ways of arranging governments. If you want to go back to read the earlier material, or get everything in one gulp, you can click here.


Many experts on federalism note the role of the states as “laboratories of democracy.” Many policies enacted by the federal government were first pioneered by some states after having spread across many other states. The Juneteenth state holidays celebrating the end of slavery are examples. Texas was the first state to declare Juneteenth an official state holiday in 1979. By the time Congress acted on a Juneteenth federal-holiday bill in mid-2021, 49 states and Washington, DC, had already recognized Juneteenth as an official or ceremonial holiday.[1]  Other examples include the use of citizen’s initiatives,[2] securities regulation, bankruptcy law, and unemployment insurance.

It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory, and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” – Justice Louis Brandeis, 1932

[1] See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juneteenth#State_and_local

[2] National Conference of State Legislatures. https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/chart-of-the-initiative-states.aspx

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