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Federalism . It really is the United States. What is federalism?. Functions of government are divided between state and federal governments. Citizens are members of (at least) two different governments.

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Federalism l.jpg

Federalism

It really is the United States


What is federalism l.jpg
What is federalism?

  • Functions of government are divided between state and federal governments.

  • Citizens are members of (at least) two different governments.

  • People within the same country can lead very different legal and political lives (slavery, death penalty, family law)


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Why federalism?

  • When the US Constitution was created (when we were under the Articles of Confederation) the states were the dominant political force in people’s lives

    • States had different cultures (religion, food, music, accents, and politics)

    • States were best suited in solving local problems

    • Limited communications and travel

    • Localized economies


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Constitution– limits to federal gov

  • 10th amendment – powers not given to the federal government revert to the states or the people

  • Expressed powers – Congress limited to those powers described in Article I, Section 8

  • Federal Bill of rights only applies to federal government (“Congress shall make no law”)


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Constitution – power of the federal gov

  • Supremacy clause – Federal law is the “supreme law of the land”

  • Commerce clause – Congress gets to regulate trade “among the several states”

  • General welfare clause – Congress can spend money to promote the general welfare

  • “Full faith and credit”


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The Early days

  • Federal Bill of Rights did not affect the states

  • Slavery

  • Criminal, contract, family law dictated by the states (death penalty, divorce, criminal sentences, religious freedom)

  • Federal government ran the military, Post Office, and built roads and canals between states – states did evreything else


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But then . . .

  • Civil War – states do not have the right to leave the Union and must abide be federal law

  • 14th amendment – “due process” clause – Federal Bill of Rights applies to the states

  • 14th amendment - “Equal protection of the law” – federal government can protect against discrimination by the states


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And then – commerce clause

  • Industrialization and improved transportation and communication mean that centralizing economic policy begins to make more sense – commerce clause starts being used in the 1930s

  • Congress begins to regulate minimum wage laws, unionization protections, worker safety laws, child labor laws . . . Abortion, guns.

  • Heart of Atlanta Motel v US (1964)

  • Gonzales v Raich (2005)


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And then – General welfare

  • Congress begins to spend large amounts of money to build roads, bridges, schools, and other infrastructure

  • They attach strings to that money

    • 21 drinking age

    • 55 speed limit


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Federalism today

  • States probably still handle about 99 percent of the litigation in the US

  • Still wide variety in some areas from state to state (gay marriage, gun control, divorce) but some areas have less variety (abortion, protection of racial minorities, federal crimes like kidnapping or robbing a bank)


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Federalim considered

  • Advantages: “Laboratories of democracy” (welfare reform), address local issues and concerns, opportunities for local participation

  • Disadvantages: Government services can vary (schools), Inconsistency and confusion (driving laws), “rush to the bottom”


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