Ch 3 Federalism - Study Questions (with Answers)


  1. Define the term federalism and compare and contrast it with unitary and confederation governments. Give examples of each. All 3 derive power from something or someone. Federalim: derives power from the people (United States), Unitary: derives power from the national government (Today's Russia, 80 % of today's Constitutions), Confederation: derives power from the the states (the early american colonies were a confederation).
  2. According to the supremacy clause, what three items are the supreme law of the land? The Three items are : a) The U.S. Constitution, b) the laws of the United States and c) its Treaties
  3. What are block grants? Block Grants are broad grants to the states for specific activites with few attached strings.
  4. What is TANF? Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This welfare program was initiated by Bill Clinton when he signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 into law. TANF gives the states much power to administer welfare.
  5. What is federalism, and why is it important? Federalism is a system of government where power is divided between a national government and the state governments. It is important because it brings a balance of power by allowing states to make their own laws and still keeping the national government as the supreme decider for situations when conflict arises and national unity is in jeopardy.
  6. What is the supremacy clause? The supremacy clause states that the national law is absolute to all oher laws passed by states or by any other subdivision or government.
  7. Explain the doctrine and implications of implied powers. Some of the founders like Alexander Hamilton believed that it simply wasnt possible to list all the powers that the government could be allowed, therefore what could be "implied" from the powers specifically stated was constitutional. Implied powers was the name these powers were given, powers not specificallystated but could be infered from what powers were specifically stated are allowed the national government.
  8. What is full faith and credit? Full faith and credit makes sure judicial decrees and contracts made in one state will be binding and enforeable in any other state. (still recoginzed in other states.)
  9. Discuss federalism under the Bush Administration. When George W. Bush came to power, he didn't see September 11th coming. But as a result, the role of the national government heavily increased. Also, as government spending increased, so did the budget deficit. Bush proposed things like a new Cabinet department, The Department of Homeland Security, and federalizing thousands of airport security personel. Federal requirements were also evident in other domestic aspects like education (No Child Left Behind Act).
  10. Compare and contrast denied powers and guarantees to the states in the U.S. Constitution.
  11. What are police powers? Police powers are the states' reserved powers defined under the Tenth Amendment. They include the ability to legislate for the public health, safety, and morals of their citizens. Police powers are also the basis for state criminal laws.
  12. Explain the idea of concurrent powers. Please give examples. Concurrent powers are powers that both state and federal governments can exercise. Examples include collecting taxes, establishing courts, borrowing money, and enforcing laws. :)
  13. Discuss the facts and significance of McCulloch v. Maryland (1819). In McCulloch v. Maryland, McCulloch refused to pay the tax the state of Maryland put on the Federal Bank. The Supreme Court ruled that Maryland did not have the power to tax the Federal Bank. Due to the Supremacy clause, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, states can not create laws affecting federal laws.
  14. Discuss the facts and significance of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Plessy v. Ferguson was a Supreme Court case where a man from Louisiana said that there should be separate railroads for blacks whites. The Court ruled that state maintenance of “separate but equal” facilities for blacks and whites was constitutional. The Supreme Court ruled that many civil right, such as, voting were state decisions. This went against the Civil War Amendments.
  15. What was the decision in the Dred Scott case, and how does it affect federalism? Slaves were seen as property, not people and the Missouri Compromise was ruled unconstitutional. They ruled that the Congress could not ban slavery in a territory, which then left it up to the states, rather than the national government.
  16. Discuss the doctrine of dual federalism. Dual Federalism is the thought that the country runs best with a balance of separate and equal power levels in the government. During Chief Justice Taney’s term in the Supreme Court, he used his power in hopes to keep states’ rights reserved to the states.
  17. Compare and contrast the basic tenets of Reagan federalism. When Democrats and others were arguing that government grants were effective, Reagan attacked this idea saying that the national government was imposing its priorities on the states. To solve this, Reagan proposed massive cuts in domestic programs and income taxes. Reagan persuaded Congress to consolidate categorical grants into block grants to give more freedom to the states.
  18. Compare and contrast block grants and revenue sharing. Block grants are broad grants with few strings attached. The government gives them for specified activities in mind such as secondary education or health services. When Reagan introduced block grants, he ended revenue sharing, which was pretty much unrestricted funds to the states.
  19. Compare and contrast the effect of preemption and unfunded mandates on federal relations. a preemption is a concept that acquired from the supremacy clause, it allow the national government to overide certain actions of the state or local government, an unfunded mandate requires state and local governments to abide by federal rules and regulations without any federal funding. These concepts restrain federal realtions because most of the time state governments do not have the money to support unfunded mandates or see a reason for preemptions, such as the noDiscuss the historical development of federalism in the United States. child left behind.
  20. Discuss the historical developments of federalism. In the United states, the government started out with a dual federalism, which is usually represented with a layer cake. This is because the responsibilities and duites of each part of the goverment is clearly laid out and srictly followed. However, after the Great Depression and the New Deal occurred in the United States, federalism changed to a coperative federalism, which is usually represnted by a marble cake, because now, the roles are shared and the different parts of the government work together to accomplish a goal.
  21. Discuss the allocation of federal and state powers within the U.S. system and how they have changed over time.
The Constitution gave the national government enumerated powers and, as written in the Tenth Amendment all other powers to the State government. The Constitution does not give local government independent authority; instead they derive their power from the state government. These separate levels or layers of government changed drastically during the Great Depression when the national government took a more hands on approach to their powers and responsibilities.
  1. Citing at least three Supreme Court cases, discuss the role of the Court in the development of federalism. Marbury v. Madison (1803) - John Marshall declared the judicial branch had the power of judicial review, ensuring an equal balance between the branches (checks and balances). McCulloch v. Maryland - The Supreme Court upheld the power of the national government and denied rights to the states to tax any federal bank (Supremacy Clause). Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) - Supreme Court upheld broad congressional power to regulate interstate commerce (expansive federal powers).
  2. Discuss the role of the state and local governments in defining federal relations. State and Local governments are given all capabilities not expressly given to congress. This means regulations and legislation regarding things such as marriage or traffic violations fall nonexpressly to the state and local governments. These laws and areas of jurisdiction are typically more particular and narrow than federal law would cover. This jurisdiction of the State/Local gov. can be impeded upon by the federal government indirectly, with the use of mandates or conditions of aid.
  3. Using contemporary examples, discuss the current state of federalism in the United States. Today, under the Bush administration, the federal government has grown in both size and cost substantually. His large deficit has lead the federal government to struggle with the costs of it's expansion. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Bush was forced to trade in his ideals of devolution, and add a huge new cabinet department of the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, Bush has also creating the No Child Left Behind Act, which has created several new federal requirements for each state. Hence, the federal government has followed an increasing trend of preemption.
  4. Discuss the history of federal grants. How has the role of federal grants to states changed and why? Before the 1960s most federal grants to states were categorical grants: grants given for a distinct purpose. During the Johnson Administration grants were given to state and local governments to combat social ‘ills’. With the Reagan administration and New Federalism, block grants were given to states, effectively giving the states more power to do what they wanted with the money.
  5. The Supreme Court has played an important role in the configuration of the federal system. Periodically, the Court has allowed federal powers to grow in areas traditionally reserved for the states. Name four such areas and discuss the implications of these changes in federal relations.
  6. What is the Tenth Amendment, and how has it been interpreted by the courts? The tenth amendment is the amendment to the constitution concerning the powers that are not specified in the constitution pertaining to either the states or the national government so it is then power is given to the state and the citizens of the U.S. The courts have interpreted the tenth amendment as a use to show the powers of the states with cases such as U.S. v. Pritz dealing with gun ownership and background checks for gun owners then making the status of the states in our federal system now strengthened.
  7. Compare and contrast enumerated powers and implied powers. Enumerated powers are powers that can be found on the hard copy of a document(in this case, the Constitution). Implied powers are powers that are authorized by a document, but not specifically stated.
  8. Why is the necessary and proper clause sometimes referred to as the elastic clause? The necessary and proper clause is sometimes referred to as the elastic clause because it allows Congress to make laws that are "necessary and proper" for carrying out the enumerated powers. This grants Congress flexibility in creating laws or in acting when the Constitution does not specifically give them the power to do so.
  9. In what ways has the policy issue of equality been an issue of federalism?
  10. What is a categorical grant, and how is it different from a block grant? A categorical grant is when money is given by Congress for a specific purpose. A block grant is money given to a state for a broad category like secondary education or health services. The difference being that the categorical grant must be used for the exact thing which it is being given and the block grant is less restrictive on what its uses must be.
  11. Describe American federalism and contrast federalism to unitary government. For a country like the United States, is federalism an appropriate system? Explain. In American Federalism the national and state government derive its power from the people (the people vote from mayors, to govenors, to senators who will represent them in office, to the president ). In contrast, in a unitary system, the national government contains all the authority so the local and regional governments derive their power from the national govt. Federalism is appropriate for America because it is a large country with many independent states with various sizes and populations, who need to be equally heard in government.
  12. Why is federalism considered so important? Explain how federalism decentralizes politics and policies. Federalism is considered so important because it gives an equal opportunity to all individuals and prevents one power from overpowering another. Federalism creates a government of three branches, legislative, executive, and judicial, which have seperate duties and responsibilities including checks and balances to keep each other in check and equally powerful. This system decentralizes the federal government into many smaller branches to create an equal whole.
  13. Describe the federal system as formulated in the original design of the Constitution. Explain how federalism has evolved or changed since the writing of the Constitution, particularly in terms of the establishment of national supremacy.
  14. List some of the powers specifically granted to the state governments by the Constitution. List some of the powers specifically denied the states by the Constitution. Do the powers granted and denied seem wise? Explain.Granted by state government: 2 members in the senate, privileges and immunities clause- “citizens of each state are afforded the same rights as citizens if all other states, reserve or police powers- dealing with the states public health, safety, and morals of the citizens (i.e. abortions)......Denied state government power: coin money, enter treaties, and enter compacts with other states without congresses approval. .....These are good denied powers because if states could coin their own money we would not have a unified currency for the United States. Also if they entered into treaties without the approval of congress, we could never keep tabs on the whole country.
  15. Briefly describe and state the historical significance of the McCulloch v. Maryland decision. Did the Supreme Court issue a fair decision or did this undermine a proper balance in federalism? Explain. Two basic questions were answered in McCulloch v. Maryland: 1. Did congress have the authority to charter a bank? ANSWER- YES: congress is given the authority to levy taxes; therefore, it can create a bank to carry out that duty (use of the necessary and proper clause in action!) 2. If they can charter a bank, can the states tax it? ANSWER- NO: national law is supreme SIGNIFICANCE: The necessary and proper clause is used still to this day to justify decisions of the federal government; states do not have monetary control over national government institutions
    It provided a fair interpretation of the constitution because although the decision was made in favor of the national government, had the decision been made in favor of the states, it would have given the states a lot of monetary power, which we learned from the Articles of Confederation did not amount to a healthy governmental structure. So, this decision really helped define the powers of the federal government.
  16. Explain what happened in the Supreme Court cases of McCulloch v. Maryland and Gibbons v. Ogden? What is the importance of each case to the distribution of powers between the states and the national government? In McCulloch v Maryland, Maryland tried to put a tax on all bank notes that were not from Maryland Banks.The Necessary and Proper Clause was then put in the constitution. In Gibbons v. Ogden, New York tried to a monopoly on steamboat operations. Ogden tried to keep rival Gibbons out of the state so he sued. The Commerce Clause came out of the case. Basically it says, "The Congress shall have Power ...To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." The Necessary and Proper Clause states, "The Congress shall have power …To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof."
  17. Explain the relationships and obligations between the states in the American federal system. Use specific examples to illustrate your answer.
  18. Compare and contrast dual federalism and cooperative federalism. What are the standard operating procedures for cooperative federalism? Dual federalism was before the great depression and the new deal. It is the belief that having separate and equally powerful levels of government is the best arrangement; the analogy is the layered cake. After the new deal it changed to cooperative federalism which is the relationship between national and state governments starting with the new deal; its analogy is the marble cake. States started to take a secondary role in governement and federal grants started to grow.
  19. Define what is meant by "fiscal federalism." How is it manifested through the federal grant system? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each of the different types of grants? Fiscal federalism is the use of the national government taxing and spending policies to influence the overall economy. In the grant system the national government gives the state money to be used on something spacific. An example of a good grant was the Morrel Land Grant of 1862 which gave each state 30,000 acres of puplic land for each representative in congress. Catagorical grants are used for spacific purposes that are chosen by congress which could help or the money could be used on something unneeded.
  20. What means and strategies do the states and communities use to compete with each other for federal dollars? Under what circumstances might the states and localities not want to receive federal aid? States will attempt to obtain federal money through lobbying. Lobbyists can provide Congressmen with political support if the Congressmen support projects that would increase state revenue, like museum projects or stadium construction or better transportation systems. State residents will try to elect officials who support pork barrel spending. Additionally, states may try to obtain federal funding for education through testing related to the No Child Left Behind act. States do not want aid in categorical grants for projects which they do not find important and are merely driven by power-hungry politicians.
  21. To what extent has the new Republican majority, first elected in mid 1990s, limited the scope of government? enhanced it? Too bad we took the majority back!!! =)
  22. What are the advantages and disadvantages to democracy under a federal system? If you were drafting the Constitution today, would you opt to continue federalism or try something else? Explain.
  23. Discuss how federalism creates a more democratic political system. Federalism is the system in which the power to govern is shared between the national & state governments. Because of that, individual state has more freedom than others. Individual states can make their own laws for their own. Individuals can participate in government by voting.
  24. Explain and give specific examples of the advantages and disadvantages of federalism for democratic government. Advantages- Power is centralized, and strongest at the national level of government allowing for a united country under one set of laws that is supreme over the whole land. Allows for citizens to vote and be a part of their government. For example, the federal government provides for the defense of the people with the navy, army, and airforce. Disadvantages- Federalism is always based off majority rule, so many states' opinions and needs are not listened to. Also, individual laws necessary for states may be considered illegal at the national level. For instance, medical marijuana is considered illegal at the national level, but is legal in many states.
  25. Generally, how do the 50 states and Washington, D.C. differ in their laws regarding state welfare benefits? On per-capita spending on public education? Is this a problem in a country like the United States, or a strength of our system? Explain.
The fifty states and Washingotn D.C. differ in a few ways but one of the most relavent ways that I believe is most important to people our age is the schooling system. The fact that if you live in Washingotn D.C. you can go anywhere for instate tution. This is a problem for a country like the United States because this is unfair to other students. Because for some states there are just as many GOOD schoolas as there are in Washington D.C.
  1. Describe how our federal system allocates responsibilities to state and federal governments. Have these responsibilities changed over time? How has federalism influenced the scope of government?
  2. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson differed over the meaning of federalism. Explain their general positions in this feature of the Constitution. Alexander Hamiliton was one of the main Anit-federalists while Thomas Jefferson was one of the main Federalists. The main arguements of the anti-federalists was that the Constituion gave the federal government too much power and that the states should have more. They wanted to keep the the Articles of Confederation and get rid of the Constitution. The Federalists had basically opposite views because they wanted the majority of the power to be with the federal government and they promoted the Constitution with The Federalist Papers. The Constitution was ratified only with the promise of a Bill of Rights, which made anti-federalists happy because it guarenteed the personal rights of the people.
  3. Cite the two fundamental questions that the Supreme Court answered in handing down its decision in McCulloch v. Maryland, and explain the impact this decision had on the development of the federal system. The Supreme Court answered the questions: Did Congress have the authority to charter a bank and if it did, could a state tax it? The ruling of the Supreme Court was in favor of the national government and led to expanding federal powers.
  4. Explain how nullification became a feature of American political debate and how the issue was eventually settled. The Anti-Federalist first came up with the idea of nullification in 17 89, when the VA and KY resolutions were passed, giving nullification rights to the States. This practice was abandoned when Federalists came into power. The nullification theory came into practice during the economic depression of the 1820’s that particularly weakened South Carolina. John C. Calhoun of South Carolina (Jackson’s VP) wanted to override the Tariff of 1828, or the “Tariff of Abominations”, citing that nullifying a federal law was constitutional if ¾ of states didn’t approve it as an amendment. The issue was solved when in 1833 the tariff was lowered and the “force bill” was introduced, allowing the President to use force to keep the Union together. Of course, the issue was never really finished until the end of the Civil War.
  5. Outline the somewhat brief history of dual federalism and discuss its implications. In dual federalism, the state governments and the national government both act independently, while the national government has only those powers specifically stated in the constitution, the states government can control everything in the state. This was the first federal system of government in the US but it fell apart soon since the states were not able to control everything efficiently. It gave way to cooperative or marble cake federalism, which puts national law above all states.
  6. What are some ways in which states have opened the door to direct democracy? Many states today have become more democratic by opening up the number of issues on which voters may be heard on. In California, voters see many local and state affairs on the ballots. Such items as whether or not to build a new stadium or expand educational spending along with the usual state and local positions. Federal elections are only for people and not issues. So in this way, states have more direct democracy than the federal gov't
  7. Discuss four reasons why federal money historically has seemed to be attractive to state and local officials.
  8. Identify and explain some of the reasons for continuing federalism in its current form? In other words, defend a federal system of government. A federal system should be continued in a country like the United States because of division of power by the constitution between the federal and state governments. Without a federal form of government the United States would not be able to control the states and thus launching us back to the days of the articles of confederation. Finally federalism allows for representatives and equal representation by the people something we could not live without in the United States.
  9. Explain what “devolution” refers to and identify the reasons why it is a feature of American politics today. Devolution
    is the passing of authority from the national governments to the state governments.