Parliamentary Sovereignty and Federalism

  • A. V. Dicey


My present aim is to illustrate the nature of Parliamentary sovereignty as it exists in England, by a comparison with the system of government known as Federalism as it exists in several parts of the civilised world, and especially in the United States of America.1


Federal State Separate State Federal Court Federal System Railway Company 
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  1. 1.
    On the subject of American Federalism see Bryce, American Commonwealth, 1910 edition, especially vol. i, pt. i; see also Amos, The American Constitution, 1938, for a short account by an English lawyer. A useful, up-to-date account is contained in Bernard Schwartz, American Constitutional Law, 1955.Google Scholar
  2. The author referred to the following authorities: Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (4th ed., 1873); BryceAmerican Commonwealth (1910 ed.);Google Scholar
  3. British North America Act, 1867; Bourinot, Parliamentary Procedure and Practice in the Dominion of Canada (1st ed., 1884); Constitution Fédérale de la Confédération Suisse du 29 Mai, 1874;Google Scholar
  4. Blumer, Handbuch des Schweizerischen Bundes-ataatsrechtes; Lowell, Governments and Parties in Continental Europe (1896), vol. ii, ch. xi-xiii;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Adams and Cunningham, Swiss Confederation (1889); and see App. sec. iv, post;Google Scholar
  6. Quick and Garran, Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth (1901);Google Scholar
  7. Moore, The Commonwealth of Australia (2nd ed., 1910);Google Scholar
  8. Bryce, Studies in History and Jurisprudence (1901), vol. i, Essay viii (The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia).Google Scholar
  9. 1.
    The expression “fundamental laws of England” became current during the controversy as to the payment of ship-money (1635). See Gardiner, History of England, vol. viii (1884), pp. 84, 85.Google Scholar
  10. 2.
    Cf. especially Kent, Commentaries (12th ed., 1873), para. 447–449.Google Scholar
  11. 2.
    European critics of American federalism have paid in general too little attention to the working and effect of the State constitutions, and have overlooked the great importance of the action of the State legislatures. See Boutmy, Etudes de Droit constitutionnel (2nd ed., 1888), pp. 103–111.Google Scholar
  12. 2.
    Kent, Commentaries (12th ed., 1873), vol. i, para. 314; cf. 17äd., para. 449.Google Scholar
  13. 1.
    Munn y. Illinois (1877) 4 Otto 113. See especially the Judgments of Marshall, C.J., collected in The Writings of John Marshall upon the Federal Constitution (1839).Google Scholar
  14. 6.
    Bourinot, Parliamentary Procedure and Practice in the Dominion of Canada (1st ed., 1884), p. 76.Google Scholar
  15. 2.
    For the Canadian Constitution, see W. P. M. Kennedy, The Constitution of Canada, 1534–1937 (1938);Google Scholar
  16. R. M. Dawson, The Government of Canada (2nd ed., 1956).—En.Google Scholar
  17. 3.
    For the Swiss Constitution, see C. Hughes, The Federal Constitution of Switzerland, 1954.Google Scholar
  18. 2.
    The decision thereof belonged till 1893 to the Assembly, guided by the Federal Council; it now belongs to the Federal Court. See Dubs, Das öffentliche Recht, ii (2nd ed.), pp. 92–95; Lowell, Governments and Parties in Continental Europe (1896), vol. ii, pp. 217, 218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 2.
    See Sumner, Andrew Jackson (1882: American Statesmen Series), p. 182.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1979

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  • A. V. Dicey

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