Defining Federalism

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Chapter III: Federalism

Defining Federalism

I. What is Federalism?
i. Federalism: organization of gov’t in which two or more levels of government have authority over the same area of people
a. E.g. Local, State, Federal gov’t
ii. Rarer form of gov’t
a. Most nations have unitary governments: all power resides in the central gov’t
b. Some nations are confederations: weak central government with most power residing with the country’s components (e.g. states) i. Local gov’t receives its power from the state, while state gov’t receives its power from the Constitution

ii. Intergovernmental relations: set of interactions between national, state, and local gov’t
I. Why is Federalism So Important?
i. Decentralizes politics
a. Each state represented separately
b. Greater opportunity for political participation
ii. Enhances judicial power
a. Solves states arguing w/ either local or federal government, local arguing with federal
iii. Decentralizes policies
a. States are responsible for most public policies regarding social, moral, and family issues
b. Feds get involved when a group brings the state to federal court in an attempt to get the policy ruled unconstitutional or a group lobbies Congress to force states to comply
§ E.g. states could not get money for highways unless they raised the drinking age to 21

The Constitutional Basis of Federalism

I. The Division of Power
i. Clearly defines powers of states and feds
ii. Supremacy clause: Constitution, constitutional national laws, and constitutional treaties trump state laws (Article VI)

iii. Tenth Amendment: Powers not explicitly given to the federal government are given to the states
a. US v. Darby: Amendment X means that states have their own powers, not that states’ powers are superior to those of the feds
b. Garcia v. San Antonio Metro: Congress decides which powers the states have, not the courts
iv. Eleventh Amendment: prohibits individual damage suits against state officials or...
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