Main Terms and Concepts Connected with Federalism

Short Answers

Terms and Concepts:

Federalism is a system in which powers and responsibilities are distributed between a national government and smaller state governments.

Dual Federalism is a system that is often compared to a “layer cake” in which powers are distinctly divided between the central and state governments.

Cooperative Federalism is a system that is often compared to a “marble cake” in which the central and state government work closely to solve complex problems in the nation.

Centralized government is a system in which the power to make decisions is in the hands of only the executive leadership while a decentralized government means that power to make decisions is delegated to lower level officials as well.

In cooperative federalism the central government and the state governments work together and share duties to fix a problem such as during the Great Depression. In dual federalism, the central and state government have distinctly separated powers. Finally, in new federalism, the system has been changed and is favored towards giving states back some of their power after a system of cooperative federalism during the Great Depression. 

Constitution and Amendments:

The 10th Amendment mentions Federalism. The amendment states that any power that is not directly delegated to the central government belongs to the state government. In addition, Article 6 of the Constitution makes a stand for the central government. The article is also commonly referred to as the “Supremacy Clause” due to the fact that it states that the laws of the central government bound the states and its citizen. In both of these examples there is a clear separation of power between the central and state governments.

Supreme Court Cases:

In US V. Lopez, Alfonzo Lopez was cleared of state charges for carrying a concealed weapon on school grounds; however, the federal government came in and charged Lopez with violating the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. An argument ensued between the state and federal government to decide whether the federal government had the ability legislate the act under the Commerce Clause. It was decided that since carrying a weapon on a school campus is not an economic activity, the federal government is unable to act upon the legislation under the Commerce Clause. Next, the case of McCulloch V. Maryland arose due to the state of Maryland taxing the Second Bank of the United States. The states appealed to courts that the federal government had no right to charter a national bank since it is not directly stated in the Constitution. The Supreme Court , however, unanimously ruled that the federal government did have the right to charter a nation bank under the Necessary and Proper Clause.It was also ruled that the states had no right to tax a federal institution, giving more power to the federal government. In another fight between state and federal government, the Dred Scott V. Sandford case was filed to determine if Dred Scott was a slave or a free man after residing in a state where he was able to gain freedom. The federal court struck down the state law of Illinois and declared Dred Scott as a slave by referring to the Constitution to say that Dred Scott is not a citizen and ,therefore, did not have the right to file a case in federal courts. Similarly, in Hammer V. Dagenhart, a father went to court to allow his son to work in the textile mills. His case was relevant as it appealed to the fact that production was not included in the Commerce Clause and therefore the federal government had no right to decide production means in states. Since the power to regulate production was not expressed in the Constitution, judges ruled in favor of the idea that the power would belong to the states instead. Finally, in Martin V. Hunter’s Lessee, the courts intervened to determine if Lord Fairfax’s land was entitled to him under the Jay Treaty or if the Virginia state government should be allowed to take the land back. The courts ruled that the state and federal government were not equal sovereign states and ruled in favor of the federal government, saying that the land does indeed belong to Lord Fairfax based on the Supremacy Clause. These cases represent times that the state and federal government came into conflict to compete

Legislative Branch Position Paper

Short Answers

Terms and Concepts:

The Legislative branch is a bicameral body, meaning it is separated into two bodies: the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Senate is a continuous body which has been “unbroken since 1789.”  Only ?…“ of  Senators are up for re-election, allowing the rest of  Senate to continue running.

The Rules Committee of the House of Representative is considered to be the “traffic cop of Congress”. The committee decides the rules for each bill that is considered. The committee decides how long each bill gets to be debated, what rule the bill falls under for debate (open, rules, modified open rules, structured rules, or closed rules., and offer amendments.

A filibuster is an attempt to block a proposed bill or to raise awareness for a certain bill. In a filibuster, Senators speak for hours in order to delay Congress proceedings or a vote. In order to end a filibuster, Senators must obtain 60 votes to invoke a cloture to end an ongoing debate.

A divided government pertains to the situation when the House, Senate, or both are controlled by a party majority that opposes the President. When this happens, it is hard for the Congress to pass laws and harms the President’s ability to make progress in fulfilling campaign promises.

Constitutions and Amendments:

In the Constitution, the structure and composition of the legislature is mentioned in Article 1, sections 1, 2 and 3. The article states that the legislature should be separated into the House of Representatives and the Senate. Representatives are elected every two years and the number of representatives from each state is based on its population. The Senate, however, is composed of exactly two representatives from each state  that are elected on a rolling basis. The structure and composition of the Constitution is mentioned in the 17th amendment. The amendment states that Senators are to be elected by popular vote of the people. This amendment was created in order to avoid Senators from being influenced by corrupt state legislatures.

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