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FEDERALISM:. Dynamics of the System. SOME TRUTHS ABOUT AMERICAN FEDERALISM. American federalism is a dynamic and flexible system Constitution’s vagueness create constraints and opportunities for politicians, citizens and interest groups to push ideas they care about

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federalism
FEDERALISM:

Dynamics of the System

some truths about american federalism
SOME TRUTHS ABOUT AMERICAN FEDERALISM
  • American federalism is a dynamic and flexible system
    • Constitution’s vagueness create constraints and opportunities for politicians, citizens and interest groups to push ideas they care about
  • Because of this flexibility, elected and appointed officials on all levels tend to make policy decisions based on pragmatic considerations
    • Policy goals and politics dominate decision making
some truths about american federalism1
SOME TRUTHS ABOUT AMERICAN FEDERALISM
  • There is a growing belief among politicians and citizens that public problems cut across governmental boundaries
  • Certain forces can cause a shift in the relationship between the national and state governments
national crises demands
NATIONAL CRISES & DEMANDS
  • By using the elastic clause, Congress has been able to increase the scope of the national government
national crises and demands great depression
NATIONAL CRISES AND DEMANDS: GREAT DEPRESSION
  • New Deal programs were enacted to stimulate economic activity and help the unemployed; power shifted to the national government
    • States were given financial assistance, as long as they did what was required by the national government
  • New Deal helped to change the way Americans thought about their problems and the role of the national government in solving them (revolutionary)
  • Congress did not claim any new powers, it simply used its existing powers to suit the circumstances (not so revolutionary)
national crises and demands september 11
NATIONAL CRISES AND DEMANDS: SEPTEMBER 11
  • President signed the Patriot Act, giving the federal government more power
    • Expanded investigative and surveillance powers of the Justice Department
  • Created the Department of Homeland Security
  • Established the Terrorism Information Awareness program
national crises and demands voting rights act of 1965
NATIONAL CRISES AND DEMANDS: VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965
  • States have the right to determine voting qualifications (Article 1; Section 2)
  • 15th Amendment provided that a person could not be denied the right to vote based on their race
    • States found other ways to disenfranchise African Americans
  • Voting Rights Act gave the federal government the power to intervene if otherwise qualified individuals were being disenfranchised because of race
judicial interpretation
JUDICIAL INTERPRETATION
  • The Court settles disagreements over the powers of the national and state governments by deciding whether either’s actions are unconstitutional
judicial interpretation early 19 th century
JUDICIAL INTERPRETATION: Early 19th Century
  • Marshall Court decisions favored the national government
    • McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
      • National government could establish a national bank
      • States could not tax national institutions
    • Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
      • Commerce was interpreted to mean virtually any form of commercial activity
  • Taney Court decisions favored the states
    • Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)
      • Congress could not prohibit slavery in the territories
judicial interpretation new deal
JUDICIAL INTERPRETATION: New Deal
  • Court upheld many of FDR’s New Deal Programs
  • Possible reasons
    • FDR won reelection by a land slide; Democrats held a strong majority in Congress
    • Court sought to defuse FDR’s court-packing plan
      • Expand the size of the Court and appoint judges supportive of the New deal
      • Switch in time that saved nine
judicial interpretation the nineties
JUDICIAL INTERPRETATION: The Nineties
  • Shift back to the states
  • United States v. Lopez (1995)
    • Court ruled that a 1990 federal law banning the possession of a gun in or near a school was unconstitutional
      • Congress overstepped its commerce power
  • Printz v. United States (1997)
    • Struck down background checks for gun buyers
    • Federal government could not require local officials to implement a regulatory policy imposed by the national government
judicial interpretation twenty first century
JUDICIAL INTERPRETATION: Twenty-first Century
  • Marked by a combination of nationalist and states’ rights decisions
  • Bush v. Gore (2000)
    • Overturned the Florida Supreme Court’s decision to recount ballots
  • Atkins v. Virginia (2002)
    • Court overturned Virginia’s decision to execute a mentally disabled man
the rise of the states
THE RISE OF THE STATES
  • Robert Allen: [states are] the tawdriest, most incompetent, most stultifying unit in the nation’s political structure
  • Terry Sanford: [states are] ineffective, indecisive and inattentive organizations that have lost their relevance in an increasingly complicated nation and world
the rise of the states in a federal system
THE RISE OF THE STATES IN A FEDERAL SYSTEM
  • Governors and legislators employ more experienced staff
  • Legislatures now meet more days in the year
    • Elected officials receive higher salaries
  • Appeal of higher salaries has encouraged more qualified people to seek public office
  • Increasing ability of states to raise revenue allows them greater leverage when designing policy
  • Unelected officials who administer programs (i.e. transportation and social services) are better educated
the rise of the states in a federal system1
THE RISE OF THE STATES IN A FEDERAL SYSTEM
  • National government recognizes there are certain domestic initiatives that are better administered on the state level
    • DEVOLUTION – giving power back to the states
  • Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965)
    • States would be responsible for administering a bulk of the provisions in federal law
    • Allowed states to improve their capabilities to improve their capabilities to make and administer educational policy
final thoughts on the dynamics of federalism
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE DYNAMICS OF FEDERALISM
  • As people have more access points to influence government, state policymakers struggle to set priorities and please their constituents