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POLI 100 Chapter 4 Federalism

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andrew bedrous

on 16 September 2016

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Transcript of POLI 100 Chapter 4 Federalism

Chapter 4: Federalism
The division of power between a central government and regional governments
Can be described as the principle in which two (or more) governments exercise power and authority over the same people and the same territory
Often the powers are clearly separated:
Currency, Education and National Defense
Other times the powers overlap:
Law Enforcement and Civil Liberties
Overlapping powers often lead to confusion and conflict
Dual Federalism
Theories of Federalism
A view that holds that the Constitution is a compact among sovereign states, so that the powers of the national government and the states are clearly differentiated
Requires that:
National government is to rule by enumerated (Article 1) powers only
National government has a limited set of purposes granted in the constitution
Each level of government is sovereign within its own sphere
The relationship between the levels of government is best characterized by tension, rather than cooperation
Under dual federalism, the national government and state governments work separately from each other
States' Rights
States' rights refers to the idea that all rights not specifically granted to the national government by the constitution are reserved to the states
Critics argue that the "elastic" clause, which grants the national government the powers needed to execute the enumerated powers, has been misused
Layer-cake federalism: the metaphor that describes federalism as a layer-cake in which the state and national governments are distinct with little to no overlap in powers
Dual Federalism
Critics of dual federalism can point to some specific problems:
37 of the 50 states joined the union after the federal government was created, and were given territories acquired by national government
If state and national governments are to be distinct and separate, there would be no expectation for cooperation between the federal and state governments, meaning the states could refuse to cooperate with national law enforcement and intelligence
Leaves no room in the interpretation for the rights, roles, and responsibilities of the citizens in the federal/state division of power, even though the constitution is written by and about "the people"
Theories of Federalism
Cooperative Federalism
A view that holds that the Constitution is an agreement among people who are citizens of both state and nation, so there is much overlap between state and national powers
Requires that:
National and state agencies typically undertake government functions jointly, rather than individually
Nation and state routinely share power
Power is not concentrated at any level of government, or in any agency
Bakery Metaphor:
Cooperative Federalism
Cooperative federalism is more like a marble cake than a layer cake. The two governments do not act separately, but rather intermingle in many facets of governing
It is important to note that proponents of this view cite the "supremacy clause" which specifically says that the national law is supreme to that of the state, and that government officials should ignore any state laws that are inconsistent with the laws of the federal government, the Constitution, or treaties
Generally, proponents of dual federalism acknowledge that it is an ideal, or how government ought to be, but that it is not how the government actually works
Cooperative or Distinct Governments
Which type of federalism we have has been a source of debate for most of the nations history
American Federalism is dynamic, meaning that it is responsive to changes and new challenges
Politicians at both levels generally base policy on what is practical and necessary, rather than on which level of government should be responsible for it
Citizens generally recognize that the distinctions between levels of government are blurry and that the kinds of decisions that need to be made usually cross over between the governments
Examples of Shared Governmental Authority
National Crises and Demands
World Wars, Civil War, Depression, September 11th, etc.
In many cases, the problems and solutions are much too large for state governments and their resources
Hurricane Katrina
September 11th
Examples of Shared Governmental Authority
Judicial Interpretation
After granting minorities the right to vote in the 15th Amendment, many states have tried to require specific qualifications for voting (poll taxes, literacy tests, drivers licenses, etc). The courts have ruled in favor of the national government http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/31/politics/supreme-court-north-carolina-voter-id/index.html?eref=rss_politics
The courts have interpreted national government power to include the regulation of commerce as granted in the constitution
Judicial interpretation of the powers of states vs the national government have shifted as its membership has changed, as well as with the times. Some have suggested that the interpretations have changed alongside the congressional majority
Examples of Shared Governmental Authority
Money provided by one level of government to another to be spent for a given purpose -- almost always with strings attached (see interstate highway system)
Categorical grants: target specific purposes
Formula grants: specify who qualifies, and how much they qualify for based on a set of defined rules
Project grants: competitive grants for specific purposes
Block grants: awarded for general purposes
May require programs or policies to award them at the state level when federal money is used
Examples of Shared Governmental Authority
Professionalization of State Governments
State government officials now hire policy advisers and trained staff, which was uncommon before the 1960s
State legislators meet more often, and are also paid higher salaries, which has helped to attract more highly qualified people to run for state office
The ability of states to tax, and to design policy has increased their ability to effectively govern, putting them closer to the national government
Advisers and other unelected officials have higher levels of education than the elected officials they serve
The Role of Ideology in American Federalism
Policy Entrepreneurs: citizens, members of interest groups, or public officials who champion particular policy ideas
Influential individuals are able to share ideas and to try to influence other policymakers at all levels of government, and in all branches to interpret federalism in the same way that he or she does
Can include trading favors with other policy makers
Conservatives have generally been characterized as advocating for states' rights
Theoretical Federalism
They have argued that local problems require local solutions, and that the state is better equipped to deal with them.
Advocates of this view say that people are free to move to a different state if they disagree with their states' policies
Liberals have generally been characterized as advocating against states' rights
Many argue that states' rights allowed extreme inequalities to thrive (discrimination against minorities, economic and political inequalities that disproportionately served the interests of certain groups)
Advocates of this view believe that people do better when there is some uniformity in life between states
Practical Federalism
preemption: the power of Congress to enact laws by which the national government assumes total or partial responsibility for a state government function
When the national government becomes involved it reduces the power of the state government
Has been historically rare, but more common in the last hundred years. ex: food labeling
works in two ways:
mandate: a requirement that a state undertakes an activity or provides a service, in keeping with minimum national standards. see: Medicaid
restraint: a requirement laid down by act of Congress, prohibiting a state or local government from exercising a certain power. ex: prohibition
How Ideology Plays a Role in Federalism
The traditional conservative/liberal split does not adequately explain positions on federal impositions on state governments
You will recall that the balance of freedom, order, and equality requires not just a consideration of one over another, but also a consideration of the context
For this reason, you will see many conservative Presidents who tended to support policies that favored the national government over the states.
But the context of the policy is what makes the decision make sense:
Conservatives claim to value states' rights, but often will support national policies that benefit private business over states. They also favor national policies regarding environmental regulation, as opposed to state specific policies. Recently, conservatives have advocated for a Constitutional Amendment to specify that marriage meant between one man and one woman, out of fear that some states may legalize gay marriage. Under George W. Bush, there was a renewed push to stop gay marriage.
Liberals are often regarded as favoring "big government," or an all-powerful national government, but may often advocate for states' rights on issues of liberty. Liberals have favored allowing states to legalize medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, under the assumption that the national gov't may be too slow to respond. Under Clinton, the policies tended to favor the states when state interests were pitted against private business interests. Under Obama, big business interests seem to have taken precedence over states rights.
Federalism in Elections
Officials in State govt very often continue their careers at the national level. This is especially common for executives from the state level (governers, etc)
Allows them to network, build a connection to other state officials and to those in the federal government. Fundraising is a learned skill, and usually the state level is seen as a proving ground for those with political ambitions.
Congressional Redistricting: the process of re-drawing political boundaries to reflect changes in the population (every 10 years)
Done at the state level, by state legislatures, even though the outcome impacts the national level elections. This generally gets a lot of attention as states can basically make or break national government candidates chances of election by making changes to the districts
The redistricting that is carried out at the state level must also be approved by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, a national government agency to be sure it is not designed to disenfranchise certain groups
Local Government
In addition to the federal government, and 50 state governments, there are also over 80,000 local governments in the U.S.
Municipal governments: gov't units that administer a city or town (mayor, city council, department of parks and rec, etc)
County governments: gov't units that administer a county (county commissioner, sheriff, etc.--some states divide counties up into "townships" which also have governments)
School district: the gov't unit that administers elementary and secondary school programs (superintendant, school board, etc.)
Special districts: gov't units created to perform particular functions, especially when those functions are best performed across jurisdictional boundaries (Port authority of NY, Bay Area Rapid Transit [BART], etc.)
Each type of local government has different duties, though there may be some overlap in jurisdiction
Comparing Local and National
Most people believe that local governments provide the most responsive type, primarily because the voters are much closer to the representatives
Research says that this is true, but that Americans generally don't show up to vote in local contests.
People also tend to believe that local governments are better able to respond to emergencies than the national gov't
Research says that this may be true, but that many times local governments simply lack the resources needed to provide for their population in an emergency
Having a responsive government seems to be in line with the majoritarian model of democracy, while having a complex hierarchical government seems to fit in better with a pluralist model of democracy, where even the levels of government can be seen as competing interests when they clash with each other
Some scholars have argued that dual federalism ended with the presidency of FDR, specifically the SCOTUS' support of the New Deal, which put the solutions to many major problems in the hands of the federal government.
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