Federalism for AP U.S. Government (page 2)

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Updated on Apr 25, 2014

McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

The Supreme Court dealt with the issues of the Necessary and Proper Clause and the Supremacy Clause when Maryland imposed a tax on the Baltimore branch of the Second National Bank of the United States. Chief cashier James McCulloch refused to pay the tax, Maryland state courts ruled in the state's favor, and the United States government appealed to the Supreme Court. The Marshall court ruled that although no provision of the Constitution grants the national government the expressed power to create a national bank, the authority to do so can be implied by the Necessary and Proper Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 18). This ruling established the implied powers of the national government and national supremacy, the basis used to strengthen the power of the national government.

Gibbons v. Ogden(1824)

At issue was the definition of commerce and whether the national government had exclusive power to regulate interstate commerce. The New York legislature gave Robert Livingston and Robert Fulton exclusive rights to operate steamboats in New York waters and Aaron Ogden the right to operate a ferry between New York and New Jersey. Thomas Gibbons had received a national government license to operate boats in interstate waters. Ogden sued Gibbons and won in the New York courts; Gibbons appealed to the Supreme Court. The Marshall court defined commerce as including all business dealings, and the power to regulate interstate commerce belongs exclusively to the national government. Today, the national government uses the commerce clause to justify the regulation of numerous areas of economic activity.

Federalism Today

Since the founding of the United States, society has changed, and federalism has evolved to meet the changes and challenges.

Dual Federalism

The earliest (1789–1932) interpretation of federalism is the concept of dual federalism, which views the national and state governments each remaining supreme within their own sphere of influence. This form of federalism is often referred to as "layer cake federalism," because each level of government is seen as separate from the other, with the national government having authority over national matters and state governments having authority over state matters. The early beliefs that states had the sole responsibility for educating their citizens and the national government had the sole responsibility for foreign policy issues are examples of dual federalism.

Cooperative Federalism

In the 1930s the interpretation of federalism shifted to that of the national and state governments sharing policymaking and cooperating in solving problems. Cooperative federalism or "marble cake federalism" as it came to be known, grew from the policies of the New Deal era and the need for the national government to increase government spending and public assistance programs during the Great Depression. The cooperation of the national and state governments to build the national interstate highway system is an example of cooperative federalism. The expansion of cooperative federalism during (President Lyndon B. Johnson's) Great Society required even greater cooperation from the states in return for federal grants.

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