American Federalism

American Federalism

Federalism Facing Forward:

Utah’s Role in the Future of Intergovernmental Relations

The recent resurgence of interest in federalism, from both the American left and right, makes this an ideal time to examine the unique challenges facing Utah as it navigates an increasingly complex world of intergovernmental relations. This one-day mini-conference provides a glimpse into the possibilities and problems facing Utah in the areas of public land use and education policy. The Federalism Index Project is excited to be able to offer legislators, policymakers, and citizens a forum to develop ideas for how Utah, by virtue of its unique circumstances, can lead the way toward a model of federalism that is cooperative, not coercive, and that helps to shine a light on the virtues of a compound federal republic.

Federalism Index Project Event sponsored and made possible by the Utah Federalism Commission 

To explorer the Federalism Index Project visit:

April 7th

10:00 AM:  Session 1 - Public Lands
Clarke Building (CB) 101c

       Dustin Jansen (UVU) - How Land Status Affects the Exercise of Land Management and Jurisdiction

       Zoe Nemerever (Texas Tech) - Federalism and Land in the United States

       Karla Jones  (ALEC) - Transfer of Select Western Federal Lands to State Control Has Environmental, Economic and National Security Benefits


2:30 PM: Session 2 - Education Policy
State and Federal Religious Liberty Protections in Conflict: the Future of Blaine Amendments
Clarke Building (CB) Room 101c

        Steven Smith (USD)- "The Religion Clauses and Federal Jurisdiction"

        John Meiser (Notre Dame) - "Blaine Amendments and State Funding for Religious Schools"

        Moderator: Robert Burton (UVU)



Dustin Jansen

How Land Status Affects the Exercise of Land Management and Jurisdiction

Dustin Jansen is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He currently serves as an Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies at Utah Valley University, and the Director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs. Dustin has worked in Indian Law and Policy as a Judge/Attorney since 2006. Dustin and his wife Chauma have been married twenty years and have four children. They currently reside in Mapleton, Utah.


Zoe Nemerever

Federalism and Land in the United States

Dr. Zoe Nemerever is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Texas Tech University. She studies state politics and political representation. You can read more about her research at


Karla Jones

Transfer of Select Western Federal Lands to State Control Has Environmental, Economic and National Security Benefits

Karla Jones is the Senior Director of the ALEC Task Force on International Relations as well as the Task Force on Federalism – two very different policy areas that work well together because they are fueled by ideas that attract members interested in looking beyond strictly state-based policy. Under Karla’s leadership, the Task Force on Federalism has spearheaded work in the states on a wide array of state sovereignty issues, including the transfer of select federal lands to state control and petitioning for an Amendments Convention under the U.S. Constitution’s Article V provision. Karla has written extensively on both; however, her love of the outdoors and the American West has allowed her to witness firsthand the federal government’s mismanagement of the lands under its purview. Karla has expanded the ALEC approach to international issues from being primarily EU-focused to one that is global – reaching out to policymakers in Africa, the Americas, the Asia-Pacific and Europe to identify issues where the ALEC governing principles of free markets and limited government intersect with international policy. She has established partnerships with lawmakers and other officials and organizations both domestic and overseas in order to highlight the important role that free markets and limited government play in promoting international trade and the protection of intellectual property rights. Karla also works to expand dialogue and educate ALEC members on these pivotal issues recognizing that the states are the ultimate stakeholders on these and many other policy areas that are debated at the federal and international level. With a lifelong interest in international affairs and politics, Karla was the Europe Project Director at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs before joining ALEC. There she raised the organization’s visibility as an opinion leader through extensive contacts with lawmakers and officials representing the EU and individual European nations, Israel and NATO and worked to underscore the importance of a healthy transatlantic alliance to achieving American national security objectives. Karla also emphasized the role that the Israel-European and Israel-NATO partnerships play in international security. Karla has published op-eds in The Wall Street Journal, The Hill and RedState and has authored articles that have appeared on the ALEC and JINSA websites and in the periodical Inside ALEC, and she has been quoted in the U.S., Argentine and Australian press. Among Karla’s pursuits outside of ALEC are travel – both domestic and international – and exploring the American West by RV and on foot.


Steven D. Smith

Steven D. Smith (BYU B.A., Yale J.D.) is a Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego. He has previously taught at Notre Dame, the University of Colorado, and the University of Idaho. Steve has written articles and books on law, religion, and religious freedom, including The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom (Harvard 2014) and Pagans and Christians in the City (Eerdmans 2018).


John Meiser

John Meiser is a Supervising Attorney for the Religious Liberty Clinic, where he oversees the Religious Liberty Initiative’s clinical litigation efforts and helps train students in the practice of law as they work to defend religious freedom for individuals of all faiths. Meiser joined Notre Dame Law School in 2021 with over a decade of experience practicing law in a variety of contexts. Most recently, he served for six years as a career law clerk to Hon. Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Meiser has also taught as an adjunct professor at Lewis & Clark Law School, practiced law as an associate in the litigation and appellate groups at Sidley Austin LLP in Washington, D.C., and served as an assistant counsel to the Inspector General in the U.S. Department of Commerce. Meiser earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame Law School, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Notre Dame Law Review and received the Col. William J. Hoynes Award, the Law School’s highest honor.