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Federalism for AP U.S. Government

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Apr 25, 2014

Test your knowledge with these practice questions:

Federalism Review Questions for AP U.S. Government

The Constitutional Basis of Federalism

Although the term federalism is not found in the United States Constitution, it is clearly defined in the delegated, concurrent, and reserved powers of the national and state governments. (See Figure 7-1.)

  • delegated powers—expressed, or enumerated powers, those specifically given to the national government (Articles I–V)
  • implied powers—although not expressed, powers that may be reasonably inferred from the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 18—the Necessary and Proper Clause, or Elastic Clause)
  • inherent powers—powers that exist for the national government because the government is sovereign
  • concurrent powers—powers that belong to both the national and state governments
  • reserved powers—powers belonging specifically to the state because they were neither delegated to the national government nor denied to the states (Article IV; Amendment 10)
  • prohibited powers—powers that are denied to the national government, state governments, or both (Article I, Sections 9 and 10; Amendments)
  • For example, neither the national government nor state governments may pass an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder.

Federalism in Practice

Interstate Relations

Article IV of the Constitution addresses the issue of relationships between the states. It offers several provisions:

  • Full Faith and Credit Clause—States are required to recognize the laws and legal documents of other states, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, drivers' licenses, wills.
  • Privileges and Immunities Clause—States are prohibited from unreasonably discriminating against residents of other states. Nonresidents may travel through other states; buy, sell, and hold property; and enter into contracts (does not extend to political rights such as the right to vote or run for political office, or to the right to practice certain regulated professions such as teaching).
  • extradition—States may return fugitives to a state from which they have fled to avoid criminal prosecution at the request of the governor of the state.
  • interstate compacts—States may make agreements, sometimes requiring congressional approval, to work together to solve regional problems. Some examples are "hot-pursuit agreements," parole and probation agreements, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and regulating the common use of shared natural resources.

Guarantees to the States

Article IV of the Constitution provides national guarantees to the states:

  • republican form of government
  • protections against foreign invasion
  • protections against domestic violence
  • respect for the geographic integrity of states

Some of the advantages and disadvantages of federalism are shown in Figure 7-2.

Establishing National Supremacy

Article VI of the United States Constitution contains the Supremacy Clause, which helps to resolve conflicts between national and state laws. Because two levels of government are operating within the same territory and over the same people, conflicts are bound to arise. The Supremacy Clause states that the Constitution, its laws and treaties shall be the "supreme law of the land." The Supreme Court upheld this supremacy in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819). The Supreme Court continued to expand the powers of Congress over interstate commerce in Gibbons v. Ogden (1824).

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