Note by , created over 6 years ago

Politics Note on Federalism, created by SeanaSaurusRexx on 04/30/2013.

Created by SeanaSaurusRexx over 6 years ago
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the US Constitution was devised the framers wanted to create an effective government but at the same time they were anxious to protect the states from being dominated by an overly powerful federal govt. it was for this reason that they devised the federal system as they saw it as a half way house between a confederation and a unitary state. Over the years however, many critics have argued that the federal govt has become far too powerful at the states expense.

When the framers wrote the Constitution they were determined to protect the states from being dominated by the federal government. They adopted federalism to share power between the Federal Govt and the States as they wanted the states to retain control over their domestic functions like civil and criminal law. Federalism was seen as a compromise between a confederation and a unitary state. The Framers never intended federalism to develop into a pyramid structure with the federal govern't at the apex The constitution sets out certain enumerated functions for the federal government like borrowing money, collecting taxes, declaring war, regulating inter-state trade and regulating post offices, but the framers assumed that the individual states would control their domestic affairs. the 10th amendment also protects the rights of states as it states that anything not delegated to Federal Gov't should be carried out by the States In the Era of DUAL FEDERALISM the states enjoyed significant power in relation to the federal gov't and were not domincated by it. Also in the era of NEW FEDERALISM successive Republican Presidents like Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush SR tried to hand back power to the states by giving the states block grants and giving them more freedom on how to spend it. Even CLinton a Dem announced that the Era of 'Big Gov't' was over. The Supreme Court can also rule that the Federal Gov't has overstepped its powers at the stats' expencse, for example in 1995 it ruled that the Gun Free Schools Zones Act violated the States' RIghts amendment therefore upholding the rights of the states against the federal gov't Tody in America there is a great variation between the States on issues like capital punishment, same sex unions, gambling, abortion regulations, marriage etc and Bush jr failed in his attempt to stop states from adopting their own approaches to issues such as same sex unions, this shows how the States still exercise power over the criminal and civial law. They also have the right to regulate intra-state commerce. This suggests that in many important respects the indivdual states have retained some powers and are not overly dominated by Federal Gov't

Many critics say that the Federal Gov't powers have far exceeded what Framers ever intended and that there has been a complete erosion in the powers of the indivdual states. Since the Constition is vauge and the concurrent powers of the federal and state governments are not clearyspecified this has meant that Federalism is a fluid concept that has evolved and developed as circumstances have dictated. Certain events in particular have led to a massive increase in Fed Gov'ts power FOR EXAMPLE: a) After the American Civil War (1861-1865) slavery was abolished and none of the states were allowed to break away from the union. b) The Great at the expense of the states of the Federal Gov't Depression of 1929 led to a huge expansion in the power of the Federal Government at the expense of the states as the Federal Gov't power in socio-economic terms was massively expanded, way beyond anything the Framers intended. c) America's greatly expanded Foreign Policey role also resulted in a massive increase in the Federal Gov't power In the era of Co-Operative Federalism the fed gov't massively increased its power at the expense of the states by using its financial power to give states grants in return for stipulating how the money was to be spent. This is associated with Dem Pres like Roosevelt, who did this through his new deal policey, Truman who did this through his fair deal policey, Kennedy who did it through his New Frontier policy and Johnson who did it through his Great society policy. R.Fletcher describes G.W Bush as a 'big government conervative' and states that, unlike his republican predecessors, he greatly eroded the powers of the states and massively expanded the power of the federal gov't at the states expense FOR EXAMPLE: a) In education he implemented the No Child Left Behind Act that dictated education policey and standards to the different states. b) Bush massively increased the Federal Governments power by using Fed Gov't power by using funds to control the states. c) Bush also attempted, BUT FAILED to stop the states from legalisiing gay marriage. Obama to is said by L Gais to have intervened in States affairs to a level not seen since the 1960's era of co-operative federlaism FOR EXAMPLE: a) Obama's $787bill stimulas package represents a massive increase in the Fed Gov't. b) His healthcare reforms which were unsuccessfully challenged by 27 states in the Supreme Court have also massively expanded the Fed Gov'ts power at the states expense. c) Obama has also used the financial power of the Federal Gov't to dictate policey to the states. The Supreme Court has not always sided with the states to prevent Federal gov't from being too powerful. Critics argue that it has interpreted elastic clauses like the general welfare clause, the interstate commerce clause and the necessary and proper clause too loosely to allow an expansion of the Fed Gov't power at the states expense. In the Gonzales vs raich case and the case over Obama's Healthcare, it sided with the Fed Gov against the states.