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16/02

Essay on Federalism

Posted by admin as Essays

Example Essay on Federalism:

1. Define federalism.
Federalism is a type of governance, where (historically) individual states surrender some of their power in favour of a central governing body. However, each state has authority in some matters, which differ from one federation to the other.

2. What are the national, concurrent, and state powers granted and denied by the US Constitution?
National power: the federal government (in the US: through the Congress) has several pre-emptive rights to make laws and enforce them and to decide on issues such as laying and collecting taxes, regulating interstate commerce and declaring a war.

Concurrent power:
In some areas of policy, both the national government and the state can act. Two examples are the power to tax and to ensure public safety through employing both federal and state police forces.

State power:
Individual states are allowed to act independently in areas which were not “occupied” (according to the preemptive principle) by the federal government. These are, for example, education, interstate commerce, and crime and punishment.

3. Explain how the Supreme Court solidified its power within the federal system over the course of American history.
The US Supreme Court has taken itself the power to examine and criticize the constitutionality of federal and state decisions. For example, in Marbury v. Medison (1803) Chief Justice Marshal declared that the Supreme Court is allowed to cancel laws if they are not constitutional. Additional important empowerment was the 14th amendment in 1968, which gave the Supreme Court even greater authority to interfere with interstate relations.

4. Distinguish between federalism and other forms of government (e.g., confederation and unitary systems).
Federalism is based upon shared power between the states and a central government. In contrast, under the unitary system (the most common form of government in the world) the central government is responsible to all matters at all levels, delegating its power to e.g. regional institutions but do not give them any material legislative power.

Confederation is a rather similar system to federation, with the difference lays on greater power to the individual states. As this decentralized form creates quite a weak government, confederacies are not successful historically. Some would say, however, that Switzerland and the European Union are successful types of confederacies.

5. Describe different forms or types of federalism (e.g., dual federalism, cooperative federalism, and fiscal federalism).
Dual federalism: under this principle, both state and nation have separate and equal governing bodies. Each body is responsible in its sovereign area.

Cooperative federalism: although this system does not underestimate the importance of states, it is less supportive for the rather wide independence given to them. Cooperative federalism promotes tight relations between all level of governance to work mutually towards solving current problems.

Fiscal federalism: a generic term to describe share of revenues between the different levels of government. Public financing can come in many forms. The most common is centralized taxation systems. However, in federations revenues are collected and allocated between all levels, from national to local.

Two-state federation: this is a special type of federalism, mostly known in former Czechoslovakia and contemporary Belgium. As its name implies, this federation is built upon two states, usually with material cultural differences between them. Its main weakness is the (big) minority’s power to veto federal decisions, in particular with regard to material national acts.

Symmetry and asymmetry: a term used to describe the division of power between member states. A federation is asymmetric if one state has greater power than the others.

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