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Who Has The Power In The United States?

1453 words - 6 pages

The central question of federalism is “Who should do what?” National government supporters believe only a strong central government is capable of ensuring the rights and liberties of its citizens. States’ rights advocates argue for limiting the implied powers of the national government. Federalism was a compromise for the conflict of states’ rights versus central authority. Federalism divides power between the national and the lower level governments with each having distinct powers that the other cannot override. (pg. 46)
A unitary system is a system where the national government gives power to sub-national governments such as municipalities, counties, etc. Local governments typically have only those powers granted to them by the national government. The power that the national government has given to the local levels can also be taken away from them. Especially important is the central government’s role as provider of funds. In a federal system, sovereignty is divided between the federal and state governments. Lower units cannot break away from the national unit, and the federal government cannot take away powers from the local governments. (pg. 47-49)
Power is retained by local or regional governments in a confederation system. Before the Constitution of the United States was created, the states were the main powerhouse of the confederation system under the Articles of Confederation. (pg. 48-49) The authors of the Constitution wanted to combine a central government strong enough to maintain order with strong states. A federal constitution establishes the structure of a government; intergovernmental relations bring the structure to life. Intergovernmental relations are the way in which the necessary business gets done. Relations can be between the federal government and the states or among the local government levels. (pg. 52-55)
The Necessary and Proper Clause, also known as the Elastic Clause, gives Congress the means to exercise its delegated authority. These implied powers are not written in the Constitution but reasonably suggested like build dams and highways. The Elastic Clause was applied in the case of McCulloch v Maryland in 1819. McCulloch was the first major decision by the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall about the relationship between the states and the national government. The Court upheld the power of the national government to establish a national bank and denied the right of the state to tax the bank. The Court’s broad interpretation of the Necessary and Proper Clause paved the way for later rulings upholding expansive federal powers.
The state governments have reserved powers granted to it by the Constitution under the Tenth Amendment. These powers are not granted to the federal government but not denied to the states. States have the power to set the legal age to marry and drink plus requirements for professional licensure. It’s in the power of the state to protect and promote public health, safety, and...

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