Political Identity and Tragic Compromise
Malcolm M. Feeley and Edward Rubin
New analysis of a fundamental concept in politics and law, by a pair of influential and  respected scholars


Federalism is one of the most influential concepts in modern political discourse as well as the focus of immense controversy resulting from the lack of a single coherent definition. Malcolm M. Feeley and Edward Rubin expose the ambiguities of modern federalism, offering a powerful but generous treatise on the modern salience of the term.

Malcolm M. Feeley is Claire Sanders Clements Dean’s Chair Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.

Edward Rubin is University Professor of Law and Political Science at Vanderbilt University.

Praise / Awards

  • "A thought-provoking book on the nature of national-state relations in the United States federal system."
    —Joseph F. Zimmerman, Professor of Political Science, Rockefeller College, University at Albany

  • "At last, an insightful examination of federalism stripped of its romance. An absolutely splendid book, rigorous but still accessible."
    —Larry Yackle, Professor of Law, Boston University

  • "Professors Feeley and Rubin clearly define what is and is not federal system. This book should be required for serious students of comparative government and American government."
    —G. Ross Stephens, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Missouri, Kansas City

  • "This is a brilliant book that all who are interested in the Constitution—judges, lawyers, and professors—must read."
    —Erwin Chemerinsky, Alston & Bird Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science, Duke University School of Law

  • "Malcolm Feeley and Edward Rubin have published an excellent book...One of the things that's so interesting about it is that it forced me to reflect on the extent to which the United States Constitution, usually described as "federal," in fact complies with their essential criterion of textually specific assignment of autonomy rights to sub-national units or, as a complement, designs institutions that can plausibly be described as ways of maintaining the federalism bargain. And the answer is that there are few such rights set out in the Constitution."
    —Sanford Levinson, Professor of Government, University of Texas at Austin

  • "Ambiguity of terms of the Constitutional arrangement was quite possibly a means of compromise with the intent of allowing the US to develop into precisely the system which Rubin and Feeley have observed. By contrast, there is no clear consensus on this and no indication that believers in American Federalism (e.g. Justices Thomas and Scalia) are likely to capitulate. Hence, the debate continues and Feeley and Rubin have made a worthwhile contribution to it."
    —Christopher Brooks, East Stroudsburg University for Law and Politics Book Review

  • "Feeley and Rubin have crafted a book that is bold, challenging, and hard-nosed. ... Students of federalism, American government, comparative politics, and public law will find themselves taking sides for and against the authors' treatise. But any debate over the book should not overshadow its important call and contributions to a theory of federalism. It is a "tragedy" this book has not been written sooner."

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Copyright © 2008, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • 238 pages.
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  • 2009
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  • 978-0-472-02483-4

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