Patron:
The Hon Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE
former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia
Conference Committee:
Suri Ratnapala, Professor of Public Law, UQ
Thomas John, Chair, European Focus Group, LCA
Nicholas Aroney, Reader in Law, UQ
Hendryk Flaegel, International Law Section, LCA


American Federalism

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In the United States, federalism originally referred to belief in a stronger central government. When the U.S. Constitution was being drafted, the Federalist Party supported a stronger central government, while "Anti-Federalists" wanted a weaker central government. This is very different from the modern usage of "federalism" in Europe and the United States. The distinction stems from the fact that "federalism" is situated in the middle of the political spectrum between a confederacy and a unitary state. The U.S. Constitution was written as a reaction to the Articles of Confederation, under which the United States was a loose confederation with a weak central government. Further, during the American Civil War, members of the Confederate States of America, which seceded in favor of a weaker central government, referred to pro-Union soldiers of the United Sta es government as "Federals."[2] Thus in the United States "federalism" argued for a stronger central government, relative to a confederacy.In Canada, federalism typically implies opposition to sovereigntist movements (most commonly Quebec separatism). The governments of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, India and Mexico, among others, are also organized along federalist principles. In 1999, the Government of Canada established the Forum of Federations as an international network for exchange of best practices among federal and federalizing countries. Headquartered in Ottawa, the Forum of Federations partner governments include Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Mexico, Nigeria and Switzerland. Some Christian denominations are organized on federalist principles; in these churches this is known as ecclesiastic or theological federalism.

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