Star Trek & Federalism
Ilya Somin: How Federal is Star Trek's Federation?
How much power does the Federation's central government have, and how much is left to the individual planets? Does the central government's Star Fleet have a monopoly of military force, or do Vulcan and other planets have their own local forces? Does the Federation subsidize planetary governments heavily, or are there hard budget constraints? Despite five Star Trek TV series and numerous movies, these questions haven't really been answered. Unfortunately, the academic literature on Federation law isn't much help either
Somin continues with an interesting (and wonderfully geeky) analysis of Trek-era government, and there's a lengthy discussion that follows in the comments.
Edited to Add: No sooner did I post this than the National Review went and had itself a Star Trek Weekend, with multiple Trek analyses, including a modified version of Somin's earlier column.