Federalism and courts intersect in two important ways. The first concerns court adjudication of constitutional disputes about the structure and composition of federal and state institutions of government and the distributions of power between them. The second concerns the design of court systems within federations, with particular emphasis on their organizational features and allocated jurisdictions at federal and state levels. This chapter reviews the ways in which courts understand the constitutional presuppositions of particular federations, and how those presuppositions shape court interpretations of the governing institutions and distributions of power within federations. The chapter shows how such interpretations bear on the degree of centralization and decentralization within federations and how they can either safeguard or undermine the integrity of each federal system of government. Methodological issues associated with the comparative study of courts in federations are also discussed, and key questions for further inquiry are identified.
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