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Federalism and State Powers - Essay Example

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Since its inception, the division of power in the United States’ federal structure of governance has been one subject of fierce contestations characterizing continuous political battles extending to the court corridors. …
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Federalism and State Powers
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Federalism and State Powers

Download file to see previous pages... The original federal government not only had little authority over confederate states and their activities such as commerce, the system had no court system and taxation powers. Essentially, the confederation was a loose union of politically sovereign governments, with each state having a free hand in regulating own commercial activities and having independent courts structures. The hindrances of the fragmented nature of the government with respect to national political and economic growth soon dawned on many Americans. As such, a reevaluation was thus necessary and so a Constitutional Convention was called in 1787 to restructure the government and harmonize functioning of the national and state economies. Finally, the “Great Compromise” was struck paving the way for federalism as the basis for governmental control. In the spirit of the US Constitution, Federalism is a dual system of sovereignty in which power was to be split between the central government and state governments. The agreement set fourth the United States Constitution as the Supreme law of the land with elaborate federal power system of shared responsibilities. (U.S. Const., Art. VI, cl. 2). Both levels of governments were to have a direct influence over the US citizenry through officials and enacted laws in both levels of governance. Noteworthy, changes in the constitutions governing the conduct of both the federal and state governments had to be consultative to promote magnanimity referred to in the superior laws. Articles I to VI of the supreme law basically define powers of the national government putting restrictions on what states’ spheres of influence. Accordingly, only the national government has authority to coin money, govern Indian tribes, conduct foreign relations, raise armies and a navy and declare war whenever necessary. Concerning the court system hitherto a thorn before the ratification of the constitution, only the Supreme Court was elaborately named in the US Constitution. Establishment of other federal courts fell under the powers of Congress. Declared under Article VI of the Constitution, the US constitution is the supreme law governing every aspect of governance in the entire nation. It apportions certain distinct powers to the federal government (enumerated powers) effectively limiting state powers to avoid conflict of interest. However, it also reserved other powers to the respective states (literally known as reserved powers). While State governments derive their authority from the people as outlined in their respective constitutions, the ratification of the United States Constitution basically transferred certain powers to the federal government effectively limiting state powers with respect to certain areas of policy action. According to the Tenth Amendment, “all powers not delegated to the federal government nor prohibited to the states were retained by the states.” Accordingly, states retained “police power" to enact laws governing health and safety, and those required to enhance economic welfare of the citizenry. Both levels of governments hold overlapping powers in certain areas. In general, issues regarding public security in terms of crime control, education, public health services, transport systems, and the general infrastructure are primarily state responsibilities. Nevertheless, all of these ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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