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Sovereignty federalism and cooperative federalism represent the two dominant federalism narratives among Supreme Court justices and scholars. The Court consistently invokes formal protections to safeguard the states' right to preside over their own empires.' Sovereignty scholars tend to embrace this dualistic vision of federalism that locates federalism's success in the state's ability to exercise supreme policymaking authority within its own sphere of influence without federal interference. By contrast, academics that lean toward cooperative federalism locate the states' power in their position as federal servants, not separate sovereigns. Scholars have commented that even though these academics tend to resist the rigid de jure "separate spheres" approach, their de facto autonomy theories nevertheless reinforce the basic sovereignty notion that states possess distinct identities that allow them to function as sites of decision making power.

In this Article, I attempt to enter the conversation begun by others who argue that a polyphonic theory may allow us to better understand contemporary federalism . To that end, this Article discusses the defects of sovereignty federalism and cooperative federalism, both of which are (1) subspecies of the Court's long-standing dualist approach to federalism, and (2) given expression in the Court's ACA opinions.