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Chapter 2 - Federalism. The Federal Idea Who Does What? The Changing Federal Framework Contemporary Federalism. The Federal Framework. Federalism is the division of powers and functions between the national and state governments.

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Chapter 2 - Federalism

  • The Federal Idea

  • Who Does What? The Changing Federal Framework

  • Contemporary Federalism


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The Federal Framework

  • Federalism is the division of powers and functions between the national and state governments.

  • Framers sought to limit the national government by creating separate sovereigns.

  • Explicit power sharing spelled out in the constitution.


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Other Forms of Government

  • A unitary system bestows power on the national government, and the states are subservient, implementing central government policy.

  • A confederacy bestows power on the states, and the national government is subservient.

    • Common Market to the European Union


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Federal Governments

Unitary Governments


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Advantages of Federalism

  • Geography

  • Population and layers of governments necessary to fulfill obligations.

    • Multiple arenas for decision making.

  • Political subcultures with different priorities.

  • Interstate compacts

  • States as a “testing lab” for new policies.



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Federal System Drawbacks

  • The variance in local policy application has led to a lack of uniform state laws and a demands for national standards.

  • Many argue that the national government should ultimately control all policy directions.

  • Leads national government power expansion at states expense.

  • Powerful state interests can block national initiatives.


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Separation of Powers

  • Federalism recognizes two sovereigns by granting limited powers to the national government and by reserving the remaining powers to the states and the people (Article I, Sec. 8, and the Tenth Amendment).

  • The states were sovereign entities before and after the American Revolution. The Antifederalist opposed a strong national government.


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Constitutional Design of Federalism

  • Delegated Powers

    • Expressed Powers

    • Implied Powers

  • National Supremacy

  • Concurrent Powers

  • Reserved Powers

  • Powers Denied to Both the Federal and State Governments


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Expressed Powers

  • Article I, Sec. 8, grants specific explicit powers to the federal government, including the ability to:

    — coin money,

    — conduct foreign relations,

    — raise an army and declare war,

    — levy and collect taxes,

    — regulate interstate commerce.


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“Implied Powers”

  • Article I, Sec. 8, also provides that the federal government has the power to:

  • make all laws “necessary and proper” for executing the powers granted the federal government under the Constitution.

  • has been referred to as the “elastic clause” in the Constitution

  • Controversy has arisen over what powers were actually delegated.


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National Supremacy

  • Article VI provides that the Constitution and laws enacted pursuant to the Constitution are superior to state and local laws.

  • This ensures a strong national government.


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Concurrent Powers

  • These are powers shared by both the federal and state governments including the ability to,

    — levy and collect taxes,

    — borrow money,

    — make and enforce laws,

    — establish courts.


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Reserved Powers

  • Powers not granted to the national government are reserved to the states pursuant to the Tenth Amendment.

  • Includes the following:

    • regulating intrastate commerce,

    • providing for public health, safety, and morals. (police powers)


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Early Federal Power:Dual Federalism

  • Early years were marked by a clear division in public policy authority.

  • National government was quite small and responsible for

    — internal improvements,

    — subsidies and tariffs,

    — patents and currency,

    — public land use,

    • foreign policy.


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Early State Power:

  • State legislatures regulated economic areas such:

    • property, contracts, banking, insurance, incorporation, credit and professional practices

  • States power over the individual:

    • criminal statutes,

    • health and safety regulations,

    • laws concerning marriage, divorce, birth and adoption.


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Challenges to State Power

  • National Supremacy Clause - Article VI, clause 2.

  • McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) expanded the application of the “necessary and proper clause” and the national supremacy clause.

  • This was the first major step in theexpansion of federal power.


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Challenges to State Power

  • Interstate Commerce Clause - Article I, section 8.

  • Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) established federal supremacy over interstate commerce.

  • State government could not interfere with commercial activities that crossed state boundaries.


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Challenges to State Power after Civil War

  • The federal government attempted to use its new authority to regulate commercial activities, labor laws, and working conditions.

  • Supreme Court ruled these actions unconstitutional.


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The Depression and the Great Society

  • Global economic depression occurs in 1930’s.

    • Hoover Administration continues “Laissez Faire” policies

    • Franklin Roosevelt elected in 1932

  • The federal government responded with economic and social programs.

  • The Supreme Court initially ruled that these programs were unconstitutional.

  • Roosevelt threatened to pack the Supreme Court.

  • The Supreme Court reversed its position and upheld the constitutionality of the plan.

  • The Supreme Court’s reversal with regard to Roosevelt’s programs allowed for the rapid expansion of federal power, the end of “dual federalism” and the birth of the “New Deal”.


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Cooperative Federalism

  • Cooperative Federalism grew out of the Great Depression the 1930s when an overlap of federal and state functions developed.

  • For example, the enforcement of criminal statutes and drug laws is carried out at the federal, state, and local levels.

  • Food stamps and medicaid are joint programs.

  • Federal government supplies funds (grants in aid) and local government carry out policies.


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Types of Grants

  • Land Grants

  • Categorical grants specify particular types of projects for which federal funds can be used.

    • Project grants are a type of categorical grant, which are competitive.

    • Formula grants are allocated based on need or capacity.

  • Block grants are grants for broader areas.

  • Grants to States 2007



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Tools of Power: Federal Mandates and Grants

  • Federal mandates are federal laws applied to states.

  • Congress appropriates money to state and local governments to fund particular projects, usually with strings attached.

  • The LBJ’s “Great Society” increased funded work and social programs such as AFDC, Social Security and Medicare.


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Nixon and New Federalism

  • The burdens of federal regulations, increasing deficits and unfunded mandates brought about demands for reducing federal power in the 1970s.

  • Revenue sharing attempted - no mandate or strings attached.

  • Block grants and revenue sharing were important tools in the movement toward New Federalism.


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The Demise of Nixon’s New Federalism

  • Congress and the states opposed Nixon’s plan for New Federalism.

  • Congress ended revenue sharing.

  • Fearing a loss of control over national programs and standards.


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Reagan and New Federalism

  • Reagan reinvigorated the demand for New Federalism.

  • Again, the transfer of power to the states was met with opposition.

  • Block grants were used to increase federal power.


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Fiscal Federalism

  • Drinking age and transportation grants.

  • DUI standards and grants.

  • Education standards and future grants.

  • Voting uniformity to prevent another election debacle.


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Grants: Aid or Blackmail?

  • How can federal government enforce a preemption?

  • When the policy area is within concurrent power category, this is generally known as federal preemption.

  • States could not receive federal highway funds unless speed limits were lowered, the drinking age was raised, and seat-belt laws were enacted.

  • Are these examples of national standards or federal blackmail?

  • Unfunded mandates impose restrictions on the states.


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The 1994 Republican Revolution

  • Newt Gingrich and Republicans again called for New Federalism in order to

    — eliminate unfunded mandates,

    — return control over welfare to the states,

    — return speed limits to the states.

  • Clinton administration also supported devolution.

  • Supreme Court restored the Tenth Amendment states reserved power during 1990s.


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In the 1990s: State v. Feds

  • Reinforcing 10th Amendment

  • Stressing dual sovereignty

  • Limiting federal use if interstate commerce clause

    • New York v. United States

    • Gregory v. Ashcroft

    • Employment Division v. Smith

    • United States v. Lopez

    • Seminole Tribe v. Florida

    • City of Boerne v. Flores

  • Will war on terrorism reverse this trend?


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