Expansion of federal power has typically come with the consent of states, often eager to receive the funding tied to new policy priorities. Not so any more, as some states have famously rejected funding for Medicaid expansion. Was the case of Medicaid and Obamacare an aberration or part of a larger strategy? Such is the focus of Conservative Innovators: How States Are Challenging Federal Power (University of Chicago Press, 2019).
Ben Merriman’s new book explores what he calls uncooperative federalism. He finds a deliberate conservative strategy to use the courts and state executive power to resist federal influence in state affairs. He focuses especially on Kansas and the activity of far-right conservatives in the state who have in the past decade used the powers of state-level offices to fight federal regulation on a range of topics from gun control to voting processes to Medicaid.
Merriman — a sociologist by training — is an assistant professor at the School of Public Affairs & Administration at the University of Kansas.