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Chapter 3


I. Defining Federalism
A. What is Federalism?
1. Definition: A way of organizing a nation so that two or
more levels of government have formal authority over the land
and people.

B. Forms of Government Structures

1. Federalism

2. Unitary – all power resides in the central government

a) States are unitary governments

3. Confederate – power is shared by individual components

C. Intergovernmental Relations-
1. Definition: The workings of the federal system- the entire
set of interactions among national, state and local

D. Why is Federalism So Important?

1. Decentralizes our politics

a) More opportunities to participate

E. Decentralizes our policies

1. Which government should take care of which problem?

2. States can solve the same problem in different ways.

II. The Constitutional Basis of Federalism

A. The Division of Power
1. Supremacy Clause[Article VI]

a) The U.S. Constitution

b) Laws of Congress

c) Treaties

2. State Constitutions

a) State Laws
B. Establishing National Supremacy
1. Implied Powers – “necessary and proper” clause [Elastic
Clause I-9]

a) McColloch vs. MD  Congress has certain implied

powers in addition to the enumerated powers found in
the Constitution

2. Commerce Powers – Congress has the power to regulate

interstate and foreign commerce.

a) Gibbons vs. Ogden  Congress has the power to

regulate interstate commerce, encompassing virtually
every form of commercial activity

3. The Civil War – Rights of the States / Rights of the

Federal Gov’t

a) Federal Government proved to be supreme with

Union victory

4. The Struggle for Racial Equality – ensure rights of

minority groups on state level

a) Voting Rights Act

b) Brown vs. Board  overturned Plessey vs.

Ferguson (separate but equal). Schools are state run and
must be inherently equal.

C. States’ Obligations to Each Other

1. Full Faith and Credit – states are required to
acknowledge all public acts, records, and judicial proceedings
of all the other states.

2. Extradition

3. Privileges and Immunities – citizens of a state are

entitled to all the privileges and immunities of the state which
they are in. Prohibits states from discriminating against
citizens of another state

III. Intergovernmental Relations Today

A. Dual Federalism
1. Definition: A system of government in which both the
states and the national government remain supreme within
their own spheres, each responsible for some policies.

2. Like a layer cake – each layer is separate and

3. Should be no interference between “layers”

4. Ended in the 1930’s (Gilded Age  New Deal)

B. Cooperative Federalism
1. Definition: A system of government in which powers and
policy assignments are shared between states and the national

2. Shared costs

3. Shared administration

4. States follow federal guidelines

5. Like a marble cake

C. Fiscal Federalism
1. Definition: The pattern of spending, taxing, and
providing grants in the federal system; it is the cornerstone of
the national government’s relations with state and local

2. The Grant System: Distributing the Federal Pie

a) Categorical Grants: Federal grants that can be used

for specific purposes. They have strings attached.

(1) Project Grants- given in connection with a

specifically defined piece of work or production

(a) Organization to which it’s given to must be

able to prove that over time there will be some
kind of added value.

(2) Formula Grants: amount varies based on formulas

(population, per capita income…)

(a) Administered by the states – Ex ) Individuals

with Disabilities Education Act

b) Block Grants: Federal grants given more or less

automatically to support broad programs. [≈10%]

c) Grants are given to states & local governments

3. The Scramble for Federal Dollars

a) $350 billion in grants every year

b) Universalism- a little something for everybody

4. The Mandate Blues

a) Mandates are the “strings” attached to federal


b) Unfunded mandates are requirements on state &

local governments- but no money

c) Unfunded Mandates Reform Act – Congress will

eliminate some of the mandates that are unacceptable
[ADA, Voter Registration Act]

IV. Understanding Federalism

A. Advantages for Democracy
1. Increasing access to government

2. Local problems can be solved locally

3. Hard for political parties / interest groups to dominate

ALL politics

B. Disadvantages for Democracy

1. States have different levels of service

2. Local interest can counteract national interests

3. Too many levels of government- too much money

C. State Welfare Benefits

1. Government gives money to the states to pass on to
those in need

2. Early ‘90s – no restrictions, system taken advantage of –

people just given money with no accountability

3. Welfare Reform Act – Temporary Assistance for Needy

Families [TANF]

a) Will provide funding, but after two years on the

program, the head of household must get a job. If they
do not meet the specifications, the benefits will stop

b) States are responsible for overseeing these

policies [Devolution]

V. Future of Federalism
A. “Contract With America” – Newt Gingrich
1. Decrease size of government

2. Decrease spending (amount given out in grants)

B. Devolution
1. Definition: putting power and accountability back in the

2. Declined sharply after 1996

VI. Federalism and the Scope of Government

A. Which level of government is best able to solve the
B. Which level of government is best able to fund
solutions to the problem?