Common Sense Government eBook: Federalism and Separation of Powers
Federalism is the division of power between the states and the national government. The United States began with a system generally known as “dual federalism.” In short, the national government and state governments were understood to be equally powerful within their own proper spheres of activity. The national government was limited in a number of ways … but the most meaningful limitation on the national government was a result of its very nature: It was designed to be a government of enumerated, or listed, powers. Only the powers specifically granted to the national government in the Constitution could be exercised. Everything else was left to the states.
- List several laws or regulations that are different in different states (example: speed limits). Why are they different? Should they be unified across the country? Why or why not?
- “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” is a famous advertising line. But a lot of what happens in Vegas is regulated by the federal government. Describe some examples? Do you think we, as a country, are richer and stronger if we have uniformity across the states, or should we allow even more diversity (including of controversial differences)?
This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense Government eBook. Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for use by students and teachers. Click here to download the Common Sense Government materials.
10, Sept. 2018, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, The Federalist Papers [Digital photograph]. Retrieved from <google.com>.