Chapter 3: Federalism
by Charles H. "Trey" Wilson, III
Federalism in the United States refers to a governmental system outlined in the Constitution in which power is distributed between the national government and the state governments. The U.S. Constitution allocates power to the national government chiefly through the enumerated powers, the implied powers, the power to tax, and the Supremacy Clause, and to the state governments through the "Reserved Powers Clause.” The nuances of federalism have evolved and changed in the U.S. as views altered over time about how power should be shared between the federal government and state governments. Political scientists routinely use labels such as "dual federalism," "cooperative federalism," "New Federalism," and “New Age Federalism” to describe the various incarnations of federalism. The future of federalism may be dynamic depending upon how the U.S. Supreme Court chooses to adjudicate cases in which the distribution of power in government is at issue.
Chapter 3: Federalism
The following videos illustrate the evolution of Federalism and the Supremacy Period through historical cases.
McCulloch vs. Maryland (1819)
Gibbons vs. Ogden (1824)
The next video illustrates the evolution of Federalism and Dual Federalism through historical cases.
Dred Scott vs. Sanford (1857)
Test Your Knowledge
These funds are allocated for a specific purpose and are subject to federal supervision.
Constitutional arrangement in which a limited central government acts with limited powers over sovereign nations or states.
Cooperative federalism (marble cake federalism)
system of intergovernmental relations with cooperation among various levels of government.
Dual federalism (layer cake federalism)
system of intergovernmental relations with each level of government is dominant within its own sphere.
powers specifically granted in the Constitution.
Constitutional arrangement in which power is distributed between a central government and sub governments (“states” in the United States).
Full Faith and Credit Clause
requires each state to respect “the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.”
powers inferred from the express powers(see “necessary and proper clause”) that allow Congress to carry out its express functions.
Necessary and proper clause (aka “elastic” clause)
Article 1, Section 8 states that Congress, in addition to its express powers has the right to make all laws necessary and proper to carry out all powers detailed in the Constitution.
Privileges and Immunities Clause
guarantees that citizens of one state shall be deemed to possess the same fundamental rights as citizens of all other states.
For Further Reading
Please see Chapter 4 References on page 59 of the textbook for primary sources and readings.
Nixon's New Federalism 45 Years Later by Bruce Katz.
What Brand of Federalism Is Next? by Peter Harkness.
Peter Harkness is the founder of governing.com, and Publisher Emeritus.