Abstract: The US allocation of powers creates a web of interlocking checks and balances that work reasonably well in most instances but leave room for some signifi cant confl icts. Structural issues within the federal government consist of both legitimate claims of autonomy by each of the three branches — legislative, executive, and judicial — and the checks imposed by other branches. Those issues obviously require attention to the highly contentious claims of executive autonomy; less visible but still important are troublesome issues of state power in a federal system. The role of judicial review in the US system places the Supreme Court in a position of referee over disputes of power, so this article necessarily relies heavily on the case law of the Court.
Keywords: US Constitution; executive autonomy; immigration; state– federal powers; individual rights; foreign affairs
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