Abstract and Keywords
This chapter uses the dynamic federalism model of constitutional dual sovereignty as an analytic window into the emerging legal pluralism discourse. Legal pluralism explores the significance of multiple sources of legal authority and identity with which individuals simultaneously engage. Overlapping sources of normative authority range from different levels institutions of government to private sources of “quasi-legal” norms generated by tribal, religious, commercial, professional, or other associations. Legal pluralism scholars challenge the tradition of legal monism—so entrenched that its presumptions often go unnoticed—which views legitimate legal authority as deriving only from an established source of sovereign or natural authority that unambiguously trumps all competing forces. Proponents contend that legal pluralism more accurately captures the scope of political contest in pluralist societies and the full array of normative forces operating on individual actors. Skeptics critique it for failing to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimately normative forces, and for threatening critical societal institutions by weakening the prerogatives of nation-states. Constitutional federalism, itself characterized by multiple sources of authority within a single geographical territory, provides a simple example of legal pluralism that sidesteps much of the controversy. Involving only sovereign authority, federalism avoids legal pluralism’s normative challenge to statism. Moreover, it resolves at least some of the heterarchical uncertainty unleashed by legal pluralism through the hierarchical ordering device of federal supremacy. Nonetheless, the structural features of dynamic federalism provide valuable platforms for cross-jurisdictional deliberation and dialogic policymaking that resonate with the good-governance proposals advocated by legal pluralists for more inclusive norm generation.
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