U. S. Government: Democracy In Action

Chapter 4: The Federal System

Chapter Overviews

Chapter 4 introduces the federal system and how it applies to national and state powers. The American concept of federalism, or the division of government powers, is quite dynamic. Not only does the Constitution define the relationship between national and state powers, but also between states.

Section 1 discusses the division and types of powers given to national and state powers. The Constitution grants the national government expressed, implied, and inherent powers. State government is granted reserved powers, or those powers not delegated to the national government. Included in the powers of the national government are certain obligations toward the states. These obligations include a republican form of government, protection from invasion, and territorial integrity.

Section 2 outlines federalism as it pertains to relations among the states. The Constitution requires all states to do the following: (1) give " full faith and credit" to the laws, records, and court decisions of other states; (2) give one another's citizens all the "privileges and immunities" of their own citizens; and (3) extradite criminals and fugitives who flee across state lines to escape justice. The Constitution also requires states to settle their differences without the use of force. This is done by negotiating interstate compacts.

Section 3 deals with the ever-changing balance of power delegated to national and state governments. As federalism has developed, two different views have emerged on how federalism should operate. The states' rights position favors state and local authority to deal with problems. The nationalists' position favors national action in dealing with matters. Issues facing federalism include the growing size of the national government and competition among the states for national government spending.

Section 4 explains the relationship between federalism and government politics. The influence of federalism affects government policy making, the political party system, the political participation activity of citizens, and also the quality of life. Key terms such as sunset law, sunshine law, and bureaucracy illustrate the benefits of federalism and show how citizens can get involved in the various levels of government.

US Government: Democracy In Action
Glencoe Online Learning CenterSocial Studies HomeProduct InfoSite MapContact Us

The McGraw-Hill CompaniesGlencoe