What is federalism?
Refers to a political system in which there are local (territorial, regional, provincial, state, or municipal) unites of government as well as a national government.
Examples of federal government:
United States, Canada, Switzerland, India, Germany, and Australia.
Compare and contrast:
Unitary: power is centralized. All local government is subservient to the national government. State or regional government derives authority form central government. Local government can be altered or abolished by the national government. Finally, local government has no final authority over any significant government activities.
Unitary government examples: United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Sweden.
Conferral system (confederation): power held by independent state. Central government is a creature of the constituent government.
Examples: United States under the articles of confederation.
Federal systems have special protect of sub-national government to:
constitution of the country
habits, preferences, and disposition of the citizens
distribution of political power in society
National government largely does not govern individuals directly, but gets states to do so in keeping with national policy.
Sovereignty, federalism, and the constitution
A federal system is one in which sovereignty is shared, so that in some matters the national government is supreme and in other matters the states are supreme
Federal regime is defined as one which local units of government have specifically protected existence and can make some final decisions over some governmental activities.
Federalism good or bad?
Negative views: federalism block progresses and protects powerful local interests
Harold Laski: the states are “parasitic and poisonous”
William Riker: federalism facilitated perpetuation of racism.
Daniel Elazar: federalism contributes to government strength political flexibility, and fosters individual liberty
Federalism had good and bad effects:
different political groups with different political purposes come in different places
federalist No. 10: small political units are more likely to be dominated by single political faction
Increased political activity
most obvious effect of federalism: it facilitates political mobilization
federalism decentralized authority, lowering the cost of political organization at the local level
A bold, new plan to protect personal liberty
founder believed that neither national nor state government would have authority over the other since powers comes from the people who shift support to keep them in balance
new plan had no historical precedent
teeth amendment was added as an after thought to clarify the limits of the national government
amendment 10: power not delegated to the untied states by the constitution , nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or the people
tenth amendment has recently been used by the supreme court, giving new life to state sovereignty
The states and the constitution
Restriction on power of the states: states may not make treaties with foreign national, coin money, issue paper currency, grant titles of nobility, pass a bull of attainder or an ex pot facto law, or, without the consent of congress, levy any taxes on imports or exports, keep troops and ships in peace, or enter into an agreement with another state or with a foreign power. [Article 1, sec 10]