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Adam Walsh Act: Failed Promise of Federalism

January 30, 2010

Social Science Research Network: The Adam Walsh Act and the Failed Promise of Administrative Federalism.
by Wayne A. Logan, Florida State University College of Law
George Washington Law Review, Forthcoming

Abstract:
For advocates of federalism, these are uncertain times. With hope of meaningful judicial federalism having largely receded, and Congress persisting in its penchant for intrusions on state authority, of late several scholars have championed the capacity of executive agencies to enforce and preserve federalism interests. This paper tests this position, providing the first empirically based critical analysis of administrative federalism, focusing on the recently enacted Adam Walsh Act, intended by Congress to redesign states’ sex offender registration and community notification laws. The paper casts significant doubt on the accepted empirical assumptions of administrative federalism, adding to the limited evidence amassed to date on state influence on agency rule-making, and provides an important cautionary tale for future agency-based criminal justice mandates that will likely come to pass.

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