Political Science Capstone Research Papers

Document Type

Capstone Project

Program of Study

Political Science

Presentation Date



Conditional, spending, NFIB v. Sebelius, medicaid expansion, National Federation of Independent Businesses, South Dakota v. Dole, Federal, state, funding, spending


The federal government has long utilized the practice of attaching conditions to the receipt of its funds. In the few instances that the Supreme Court had reviewed state challenges to conditions, it had ultimately set only minimal limitations on Congress’ spending power. That is why, when the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius was delivered, a host of scholarly predictions emerged. Some thought the ruling would prompt an unraveling of other conditional spending programs. Others anticipated more indirect, structural changes to flow from the decision. I find that elements of both have occurred. Over the past seven years, federal and state actions have revealed an interesting mix of results. A surge of recent legal challenges have relied on NFIB’s coercion doctrine, but the courts have consistently rejected those challenges. Congress has also been careful when designing new programs to avoid the sort of federal coercion that was struck by the Court in NFIB.


Dr. Mark Caleb Smith

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