What is federalism?
A theory of government which divides political power between a national government and state governments, each with their own area of jurisdiction. Basically, power-sharing between national and regional governments.
At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin said, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” What did he mean?
That despite the need for federalism there must be some degree of national unity.
Which of the words “federal” and “federalism” are in the constitution?
Which two parts of the constitution show that federalism exists but can also cause conflict?
The Supremacy Clause (Article 6) states federal law defeats state law where the two conflict, and the 10th Amendment which states that any powers not specifically given to the federal government are “reserved” to the states.
How has the 14th Amendment affected the balance of state/federal power?
The Supreme Court has used the “equal protection” and “due process” clauses to invalidate state laws on public school segregation (Brown v Board), abortion (Roe v Wade) and Florida’s attempt to order a recount in the 2000 election.
What was surprising about federalism under GWB?
As a Rep he might have been expected to shrink the federal government, but he ended up expanding it though No Child Left Behind, an expansion of Medicare, huge increase in security spending post 9/11 and a $700bn bail-out for Wall Street. (NB this shows it was at least party due to “events, dear boy, events” which suggests a president is not all-powerful.)
Give two Obama-era policies which dramatically increased federal influence.
Obamacare and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
How did Justice Louis Brandeis describe states, and what did he mean?
He said they should act as “laboratories of democracy”, meaning that they should be allowed to trial policies which, if they work, could be adopted nationwide.
In New York v US (1992), the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government cannot do what?
“Commandeer the legislative processes” of the states - thus protecting states’ rights.
In which case did the SC state that the federal government cannot coerce states to enforce federal law?
Printz v US, 1997
What was so significant about the SC case of Shelby County v Holder, 2013?
It stated that differential treatment of the states by the federal government - in this case, restrictions in the 1965 Voting Rights Act that applied only to Southern states with a history of racism - was unlikely to be allowed: all states should be treated the same by federal legislation. This is now known as the “equal sovereignty principle.”
Gonzales v Raich 2005 ruled what?
That the federal government can override state laws that may allow some use or supply of marijuana, and prosecute those involved. (This has not happened to any great degree.)
One anomaly of federalism is shown by the fact that although marijuana is illegal under federal law…
…states cannot be forced to ban it under their own state laws.
In how many states in marijuana a) legal and b) legal only for medical use?
a) 11 (Illinois legalised on 1 Jan 2020)
b) 33 (both as of Jan 2020)
What did DC v Heller 2008 rule?
That a DC law which severely restricted the issue of handgun licenses and required that any guns kept at home be disassembled or have a trigger lock, violated the Second Amendment. However, a range of other gun control laws (i.e. no concealed carry, no firearms in schools) are “presumptively lawful” - i.e. they probably are, although they weren’t at issue in this case.
Why are sanctuary cities (which include San Francisco in CA, and Jackson City in Mississippi - so in Dem and Rep areas) a good example of the tension within federalism?
Because they go against federal rules on how to deal with immigrants and Trump has tried to defund them, but the courts have said he cannot.