This article highlights political science's interest in the distribution of authority between federal and state governments. The authority boundaries are studied () as mechanism design problems, where authority is allocated optimally to achieve social goals; () as problems in positive political theory, because the authority distribution creates competitive interests; () as an institutional design problem, where the boundaries are maintained by safeguards; and () as a complex adaptive system, where the boundaries evolve in response to the interaction of diverse agents. The article concludes with a suggestion that as dynamic models of constitutional evolution develop, reflecting the bottom-up process and the responsiveness to the cultural community, federal constitutional design may transform from optimality studies to feasibility studies.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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