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Book description

Monitoring American Federalism examines some of the nation's most significant controversies in which state legislatures have attempted to be active partners in the process of constitutional decision-making. Christian G. Fritz looks at interposition, which is the practice of states opposing federal government decisions that were deemed unconstitutional. Interposition became a much-used constitutional tool to monitor the federal government and organize resistance, beginning with the Constitution's ratification and continuing through the present affecting issues including gun control, immigration and health care. Though the use of interposition was largely abandoned because of its association with nullification and the Civil War, recent interest reminds us that the federal government cannot run roughshod over states, and that states lack any legitimate power to nullify federal laws. Insightful and comprehensive, this appraisal of interposition breaks new ground in American political and constitutional history, and can help us preserve our constitutional system and democracy.


‘Fritz’s meticulously researched and timely book reframes our understanding of interposition and shows that it was distinct in important ways from nullification. This book fills a gap in our knowledge of the states’ role in early national federalism, placing the founders’ ideas in context and showing how those ideas were reshaped in the early nineteenth century.’

Alison L. LaCroix - University of Chicago, author of The Interbellum Constitution: Union, Commerce and Slavery in the Age of Federalisms

‘Christian Fritz is one of the most illuminating students of American constitutional development. His latest book, on the theory and practice of state interposition, casts dazzling new light on the complexities of unified constitutional meaning in a fractious federal system.’

Sanford Levinson - University of Texas, author of Framed: America's 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance

‘With perfect timing, Fritz’s book on the history of state legislative resistance hits the market, just as debate about the theory of the independent state legislature heats up, and the Supreme Court considers it. Reading Fritz’s fascinating examination of state legislative actions should fill the need for accurate history absent from the debate thus far.’

Maeva Marcus - Research Professor of Law, The George Washington University

‘In this deftly argued book, Christian Fritz traces the complex ways in which the American states attempted to 'interpose' their authority to challenge federal acts. He explains what the idea of interposition meant to its main author, James Madison, but also why Madison's concept proved so ambiguous and controversial to its interpreters.’

Jack Rakove - Stanford University, author of Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution

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