Exploring Intra-State Tensions in Government Responses to COVID-19
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Research and attention to federalism has vastly increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While political polarization has largely been used as a scapegoat to explain the U.S. policy response to the pandemic, federalism has also been credited and blamed for the policy response and has played an important role in providing avenues for conflict. This article explores intra-state conflict stemming from COVID-19. We utilize ten exploratory cases to identify three distinct but interrelated patterns of conflict that emerged within U.S. states, focusing on tensions between the executive and legislative branches, between bureaucratic officials and the legislature, and between state and local governments. We then examine a series of questions regarding the implication of these conflicts, focusing on the issuance of executive orders, the responses undertaken by officials who disagreed with and sought to push back against these orders, and the ways that inter-branch and inter-governmental disagreements about these orders were resolved.