This chapter addresses a paradox in the design and operation of federations. On the one hand, almost all federations empower the judiciary to resolve disputes over power between the spheres of government through the interpretation and application of a written Constitution. On the other hand, there is an apparent tendency in many federations for judicial review to favour central power over time. The chapter explores the extent to which the explanation for this tendency lies in the paucity of doctrines developed by courts in federations for the purpose of the interpretation of the constitutional division of powers, using the Australian federation as a case study. In relation to Australia it makes the well-known point that the federal context of the Constitution is specifically disapproved as a jurisprudential consideration in interpreting and applying the division of powers and explains how this and related doctrines have contributed to the effective expansion of Commonwealth power. The chapter argues that this approach to questions about the federal division of power is now inconsistent with other interpretative approaches, both to statute and to other parts of the Constitution. Quite apart from its impact on federalism, the interpretative approach to the division of powers in Australia also has an impact on the coherence of Commonwealth legislation, with implications for the rule of law. The chapter concludes with some suggestions about ways in which even minor shifts in judicial approach might produce a more credible jurisprudence. While much of the analysis inevitably focuses on Australian conditions, the chapter suggests that the effectiveness of judicial review to resolve disputes over power is an issue that merits attention in the design of new federations. To develop a more general understanding of the problems and possibilities of the jurisprudence of federalism, it calls for other country studies of this kind.