The US Supreme Court and the Centralization of Federal Authority

By Michael A. Dichio

Subjects: Political Science, American Government, American History
Series: SUNY series in American Constitutionalism
Hardcover : 9781438472539, 294 pages, December 2018
Paperback : 9781438472522, 294 pages, July 2019

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. Conceptualizing Supreme Court Power

2. Discerning Incremental Changes in Constitutional Development

3. Strengths of the Early American State, 1789–1864

4. Building a Modern National Government, 1865–1932

5. Legal Developments in the Modern American State, 1933–1997

6. Comprehending Supreme Court Influence

Appendix 1 Coding Decisions

Appendix 2 List of Cases in the Data

Appendix 3 List of Constitutional Casebooks Used for Data Collection

Appendix 4 Characteristics of Constitutional Expansion


Traces the US Supreme Court’s effect on federal government growth from the founding era forward.


This book explores the US Supreme Court's impact on the constitutional development of the federal government from the founding era forward. The author's research is based on an original database of several hundred landmark decisions compiled from constitutional law casebooks and treatises published between 1822 and 2010. By rigorously and systematically interpreting these decisions, he determines the extent to which the court advanced and consolidated national governing authority. The result is a portrait of how the high court, regardless of constitutional issue and ideology, persistently expanded the reach and scope of the federal government.

Michael A. Dichio is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Fort Lewis College.


"Dichio's book is a major contribution to scholarship on the Supreme Court and its role in American federalism. The book is likely to prove of great value to legal scholars, historians, political scientists, and others interested in federalism and its relationship to judicial review." — Publius

"Dichio takes a fairly unique approach to thinking about the relationship between the US Supreme Court and the development of the American state. Scholars interested in American political development and historical work on the law and the courts should grapple with the evidence on offer here." — Keith E. Whittington, coauthor of American Constitutionalism, Second Edition