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The Australian National University

Laboratory Federalism and the Kable Principle

Brendan Lim (2014) 42 (3)

Federalism permits sub-national diversity and experimentation. The Kable principle limits sub-national diversity and experimentation in relation to state courts. But this apparent tension between 'laboratory' federalism and the Kable principle is somewhat illusory. Kable does not always hinder experimentation, but rather enables it by securing its necessary preconditions. By preventing state legislatures and governments from conscripting state courts to implement political designs, the Kable principle prevents state legislatures and governments from using state courts as a 'cloak' against political accountability. This preserves the capacity of sub-national communities to compare policies across multiple jurisdictions, to express their preferences through 'exit and voice', and thereby to render sub-national experimentation effective on its own terms.

Vol 42, Issue 3, 2014

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