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US Politics – Federalism

6. Coercive or Regulatory Federalism

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In this module, we explore Coercive or Regulatory Federalism, focusing in particular on: (i) the key features of Regulatory Federalism, including conditions on federal grants and aid imposed by the federal government, as well as an increased number of federal laws, federal criminal laws, and federal court orders; (ii) the abolition of some of the institutions of Co-Operative Federalism over time; (iii) the fact that Dual, Co-Operative, and Regulatory or Coercive Federalism can all co-exist simultaneously; (iv) the various examples of dual federalism in operation during the Covid-19 pandemic; (v) the importance of state autonomy as a characteristic of American Federalism, and the ways in which states can ‘diffuse’ innovative policies; (vi) examples of contemporary Co-Operative federalism; (vii) the complexity of the American federal system.


In this course, Professor John Kincaid (Lafayette College) explores the theory and practice of federalism in the United States. In the first module, we lay the groundwork for later modules by establishing just what we mean when we refer to federalism. Then, in the second module, we dive deeper into the specifics of American federalism, before in the third module using the US Constitution as our “way in” to thinking about federalism and Congress. In the fourth module, we similarly use the US Constitution as our “way in” to thinking about federalism, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court, focusing in particular on debates around the Electoral College and the vital role of the Supreme Court as “guardians of the Constitution”. In the fifth module, we explore dual and co-operative federalism, before exploring, in the sixth and final module, coercive or regulatory federalism. Ultimately, the fact that dual, co-operative, and regulatory or coercive federalism can all co-exist simultaneously is emphasised, and examples are given for the role of each in modern America.


Professor John Kincaid is the Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service at Lafayette College. He is also the President of the Center for the Study of Federalism, an elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, and a co-editor of the Routledge Book Series on Federalism and Decentralization. He has testified before the U.S. Congress on intergovernmental matters, and recently published an article on 'Partisan Fractures in U.S. Federalism’s COVID-19 Policy Responses'.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Kincaid, J. (2022, May 17). US Politics – Federalism - Coercive or Regulatory Federalism [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Kincaid, J. "US Politics – Federalism – Coercive or Regulatory Federalism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 20 Jun 2022,

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