Richard Briffault

Richard Briffault is the Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation at Columbia University Law School.

Recent Articles

A Fickle Federalism

The revival of a doctrine of federalism that constrains the power of Congress has been a signature feature of the work of the Rehnquist Court. The Court's five-justice conservative majority has repeatedly held that the preservation of states' rights requires broad new limits on what the national government may do to protect its citizens. Indeed, the Court has invalidated a number of federal laws on these grounds, including part of the Violence Against Women Act, the background-check provision of the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act and provisions giving individuals the right to sue state governments for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Rehnquist Court's jurisprudence in this area has had a strained and curious quality. Although the five conservative justices claim to be strict constructionists, their federalism decisions are not rooted in the text of the Constitution. Nor are they...