States are not merely “laboratories of democracy,” but also sovereign governments under our system of federalism. Unfortunately, the encroachment of the federal government in Medicaid threatens to reduce states to mere agents.
No, no, no, no, false, wrong, incorrect, bad history, lies, and the source of far too many of our problems in this country. States in a federal system are not sovereign by definition! States sacrifice their sovereignty to be component parts of a federal system. Sovereignty is maintained in personal unions and in some forms of empires, the Holy Roman Empire or the Hapsburg Empire (partially overlapping at certain points in history) would be examples. It is partially maintained in confederal systems, such as the Dutch Republic. In a federal system however, the constituent parts maintain only a limited number of carefully circumscribed powers and are ultimately subordinate to the central authority. In early political parlance the powers retained by constituent members were sometimes referred to as sovereignty but this is not in the sense as it is used by moderns where sovereignty has a more specific definition that implies a degree of independence. In modern terms however, it is powers, and not sovereignty, that is retained by the constituent members of a federation.
Of course, if you don't really believe that the US was meant to be a federation and is instead a confederation, than the stance I'm complaining about makes sense. But, as long as we're using modern terms and not dressing up in costume on stage and feigning bad accents, sovereignty is not something that the states possess in the United States, or in any other political federation. If they did, we'd be a confederation or empire.