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Incorporation Doctrine’s Federalism Costs

A Cautionary Note for the European Union

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2-3 2018
Keywords Bill of Rights, Charter of Fundamental Rights, diversity of human flourishing, federalism, incorporation, individual liberty, jurisdictional competition
Authors Lee J. Strang
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article, I first briefly describe the U.S. Supreme Court’s decades-long process of incorporating the federal Bill of Rights against the states. Second, I argue that incorporation of the Bill of Rights has come with significant costs to federalism in the United States. Third, I suggest that the American experience provides a cautionary note for the European Union as it grapples with the question of whether and to what extent to apply the Charter of Fundamental Rights to its constituent nations. I end by identifying options available to the European Union to avoid at least some of this harm to federalism while, at the same time, securing some of the benefit that might be occasioned by incorporating the Charter.


Lee J. Strang
John W. Stoepler Professor of Law and Values, University of Toledo College of Law. Thank you to Csongor Istvan Nagy for organizing and hosting this conference, and to the conference participants for their thoughtful comments and criticisms. Thank you as well to Michael Stahl for his valuable research assistance. This volume (The EU Bill of Rights’ Diagonal Application to Member States. Ed. Csongor István Nagy) was published as part of the research project of the HAS-Szeged Federal Markets ‘Momentum’ Research Group.
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