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Government 12th Grade
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 The Federal System - 4

Chapter Summary

Section 1:        National and State Powers

Section 2:        Relations Among the States

Section 3:        Developing Federalism

Section 4:        Federalism and Politics



Section 1:        National and State Powers


·         delegated powers

·         expressed powers  

·         implied powers

·         elastic clause

·         inherent powers

·         reserved powers

·         supremacy clause

·         concurrent powers

·         enabling act




The Division of Powers

         The Constitution preserves the basic design of federalism—the division of government powers between the national and state governments.



National Powers

         The powers the Constitution grants the national government are called delegated powers.

         The three types of delegated powers are:

     Expressed powers—those powers directly expressed or stated in the Constitution by the Founders. Most of these powers are found in the first three articles of the Constitution.


     Implied powers—the authority that the national government requires to carry out the powers that are expressly defined in the Constitution.     The elastic clause is the basis for the implied powers because it allows the powers of Congress to stretch.


     Inherent powers—those powers that the national government may exercise simply because it is a government.



  • Federal troops ending the Pullman Strike.  The Supreme Court ruled that President Cleveland was providing for the "general welfare" of U.S. citizens.

The States and the Nation


         The powers the Constitution reserves strictly for the states are called reserved powers.




         States have authority over some matters not found in the Constitution (like marriage and motor vehicles licenses).

         The supremacy clause—Article VI, Section 2—makes the acts and treaties of the United States supreme.

         Concurrent powers are those powers that the national government and states both have.

         Concurrently with the national government, the states may exercise any power not reserved by the Constitution for the national government given state actions do not conflict with national laws.

         Denied powers are those powers denied to all levels of government by Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution (like taxing exports).


Guarantees to the States

         The Constitution obliges the national government to do three things for the states:

     The national government must guarantee each state a republican form of government.


     The national government must protect states from invasion and domestic violence.


     The national government has the duty to respect the territorial integrity of each state.





Admission of New States

         The Constitution gives Congress the power to admit new states to the Union. There are two restrictions on this power:

     No state may be formed by taking territory from one or more states without the consent of the states involved and of Congress.

     Acts of admission are subject to presidential veto.

     An enabling act, when signed by the president, enables the people of a territory interested in becoming a state to prepare a constitution.

     The territory’s constitution is submitted to Congress who, if agreeable, passes an act admitting the territory as a state.

     Congress or the president may impose certain conditions before admitting a new state, including requiring changes in the drafted constitution submitted by a territory.



     Once admitted to the Union, each state is equal to every other state and has rights to control its internal affairs.

     All states in the Union are bound to support the Constitution.




National Governors’ Association


         The National Governors’ Association (NGA) supports federalism by helping governors in state policy making and in influencing national policy.

         Through the NGA, states share ideas on how to solve problems.

         By joining together, the governors have become a bigger part of national policy-making.


Obligations of the States

        State and local governments conduct and pay for elections of all national government officials.

         States play a key role in the process of amending the Constitution. According to the Constitution, no amendment can be added to it unless three-fourths of the states approve it.


The Courts as Umpire

       Because federalism divides the powers of government, conflicts often arise between national and state governments.


         By settling such disputes, the federal court system, particularly the Supreme Court, plays a key role of umpire for our federal system.

         Through the years, the Court’s view of how power should be divided between state and national governments has shifted in response to national trends and according to the makeup of the Court.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Section 2:        Relations Among the States




         civil law

         interstate compact


Interstate Relations

       Article IV of the Constitution requires that states must give “full faith and credit” to the laws, records, and court decisions of other states.

         This clause applies only to civil law, or laws relating to disputes between individuals, groups, or with the state.


"Ford Is Being Sued Over Fuel Efficiency Claims"
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      Judicial decisions in civil matters in one state will be honored and enforced in all states.

         One state cannot discriminate unreasonably against citizens of another state—they must have the same privileges and immunities as citizens of that state.

         The states must extradite—return to a state—criminals and fugitives who flee across state lines to escape justice.




         States must settle their differences with one another peacefully.


         Interstate compacts are written agreements between two or more states.




         Suits among two or more states are heard in the U.S. Supreme Court.



Section 3:        Developing Federalism

states’ rights position

nationalist position

income tax



States’ Rightists and Nationalists

     The states’ rights position is the view of federalism that favors state and local action in dealing with problems.



         This view is that the Constitution is a compact among the states.

         States’ rightists believe state governments are closer to the people and can better reflect their wishes than the national government.

         The nationalist position rejects the idea of the Constitution as a compact among the states.

         This view argues that because the people created both the national and state governments, the national government is not subordinate to the states.

       Nationalists believe the powers delegated to the national government should be expanded as necessary to carry out the people’s will.

         Nationalists also believe the national government stands for all the people, while each state speaks for only part of the people.

Growing National Government

      To meet the needs of a modern nation, the Supreme Court, Congress, and the president have stretched the powers of the central government using three provisions of the Constitution:

     The war powers—the national government has been given the authority to wage war.

    • It prohibits the President from engaging in military actions for more than sixty days, unless Congress voted approval.

     The power to regulate interstate commerce.




     The power to tax and spend—the Sixteenth Amendment gave Congress the power to levy an income tax.

         Sometimes Congress uses taxes to regulate businesses.

         Congress can use taxes to influence states to adopt certain programs.





Federal Aid to the States

Congress has two major ways to influence the policies of state and local governments

     by providing federal grants of money, and

     by mandating state and local governments to follow certain policies.

  • The national government provides money to the states through federal grants—
    sums of money given to state or local governments for specific purposes.

  • Taxes are collected by the federal government from the states and then allocated through grants to people in many states.

  Since the mid-1960s, Congress has used preemption—the federal government’s ability to take over a state government function.

     Preemption laws can limit state and local authority by restraining their power or by mandating them to do certain things.


Section 4:        Federalism and Politics



    sunset law

     sunshine law


Federalism and Public Policy

       When a government settles on a course of action, it is called public policy.

         Federalism influences public policy in two ways:

     It influences how and where policies are made.

     It places certain limits on policy making.


         A sunset law is a provision in a law that sets an automatic end date for the law.


         Lawmakers are forced to review the need for continuing law beyond that date.


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         Sunshine laws prohibit public officials from holding closed meetings.

Federalism and Political Parties

       Federalism makes it possible for different political parties to be victorious in state, local, and federal elections.

         This lessens the risk of one party having a monopoly of political power.

Political Participation

Federalism provides for political participation of citizens by allowing them to:

     run for local office


     lobby the state government


-   campaign for a candidate for national office.



American federalism gives citizens many points of access to government leaders and increases their opportunities for influencing public policy.


     Americans have the chance to vote often for governors, state lawmakers and many other state and local officials.

     Americans may work with special-interest groups (like the NRA) to influence national policies and state and local government agencies.


         Federalism provides an increased chance that one’s political participation will have some practical impact on policy.

Federalism’s Bureaucrats

         The great increase in federal programs in the mid-1930s called for a large bureaucracy, or organization of government administrators, to carry out legislation.




         The increase in federal programs has changed how state and federal officials relate to one another.

Differences Among the States


       Federalism allows for real economic and political differences among the states because it permits each state considerable freedom in arranging its own internal affairs.


         Because states create different economic and political environments, Americans can choose among a range of conditions under which they want to live.


The Direction of Federalism


    Since the founding of the country, there has always been a debate about what the proper division of powers between the national government and the states should be.


         The general tendency over the years has been in favor of the national government, but the power balance is constantly evolving in response to new issues.


         Because of the relatively even distribution of party seats in recent Congresses, legislation has reflected both positions.


Chapter Summary


Federal System


        The Constitution delegates certain powers to national government


         Some powers are shared by the federal government and states


         All other powers are reserved to the states or the people


Developing Federalism


        States’ rights position favors the power of states over national government


         Nationalist position favors supremacy of national government over states


         Size and power of national government expanded over the years to meet the needs of a modern industrial nation


         Today states are gaining responsibility as federal government loosens regulations



Federalism and Politics


      Federalism determines whether public policy originates at local, state, or national level


         Federalism lessens the risk of one political party monopolizing power


         Federalism gives citizens greater opportunities to participate in politics