The role of state and local governments has provided a vital role in defining federal relations. The relationship has been defined by a few factors: Congress, the Supreme Court or other courts, and funding policies The courts must address questions concerning the powers of the state and federal government. Early Supreme Court decisions mirrored the views of Chief Justice John Marshall, who favored a strong national government. In defining commerce in the Gibbons v. Ogden case, he argued that Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce could be "exercised to its utmost extent." Marshall's interpretation of the commerce clause provided a way to enforce civil rights laws and regulate wages, working conditions, and other areas that may seem out of reach from federal jurisdiction. Throughout most of the 19th century and roughly into the 1930s, the Supreme Court did not follow Marshall's lead; it was hesitant to allow an expansion of federal power at the expense of the states. As the makeup of the Court changed with the appointments made by President Franklin Roosevelt, so did the direction of its decisions. Through their interpretation of the clauses in the Fourteenth Amendment, they brought about a significant transfer of power from the states to the federal government. In recent years, the Supreme Court limited the powers of the federal government in favor of the states.
Congress can make states directly or indirectly do something they otherwise might not do. Congress may also threaten to cut off funds if states don’t implement a particular policy. Although a law forcing the states to establish 21 as the minimum drinking age may be unconstitutional, Congress can and will threaten to cut off federal funds for certain thing if the states don’t comply. The most powerful tool the federal government has in its relations with the states is money. A grant-in-aid is funding provided by the federal government to the states or municipalities. Federalism has evolved...
Cited: http://www.cliffsnotes.com/more-subjects/american-government/federalism/federal-state-relations. n.d. 30 09 2014.
http://www.sparknotes.com/us-government-and-politics/american-government/federalism/section2.rhtml. n.d. 30 09 2014.
Karen O 'Connor, Larry Sabato, and Alixandra Yanus. American Government: Roots and Reform. Boston: Longman, 2011.
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