The concept of Federalism is
one that underlies all concepts about the power of
government in the US system. Federalism within the
United States system is the balancing of power between a
Federal Government and State Governments. Within this
system the Federal Government is superior to the State
Governments. For example, a state could not pass a law
that directly contradicted a law passed on the federal
level. Within these principles, power is divided among
the federal and state governments.
Powers in US Government
The US Constitution
specifically states what types of powers are to be
granted to what governments.
- Delegated Powers - To
delegate means to specifically assign, in this case
delegated powers are those powers specifically
assigned to the Federal Government. The founding
fathers feared a national government that would
overstep its bounds, so they took care to only allow
the national government very specific powers. These
are also referred to as enumerated powers.
- Reserved Powers - To reserve
is to save, in this case all powers not specifically
delegated the Federal Government are to be reserved
or saved for the State Governments.
- Concurrent Powers -
Concurrent means "at the same time", in
this case concurrent powers are those that both the
federal and state governments have simultaneously.
- Implied Powers - These are
powers that are NOT specifically delegated in the
Constitution, but are understood to be necessary or
allowed. The elastic clause or necessary
and proper clause allows these by stating that
Congress has the power "to make all laws which
shall be necessary and proper for carrying into
execution the foregoing powers" (art. I, sec.
8). Examples include:
- Hamilton's creation of
the National Bank - no power to create
banks is delegated the Federal Government,
however it was deemed necessary and proper to
form a bank to aid in Congress's power to coin
money and regulate the economy. (see McCullough
vs. Maryland 1819)
- Regulation of
Railroads, Shipping, Highways -
Congress is delegated the power to regulate
interstate trade and as such it is implied
that Congress also has the power to regulate
interstate transportation by which interstate
trade is made possible.
(see Gibbons vs. Ogden 1824)
- Denied Powers - These are
powers that are are specifically NOT allowed to
either the federal or state governments. Again, this
listing of denied powers was a specific way in which
the founding fathers attempted to create a limited
of Divided Powers in US Government
Those powers specifically granted the
Federal Government by the Constitution.
Those powers not delegated to the
Federal Government or denied the states are
reserved for the states.
- Regulate interstate and
- Coin money
- Declare war
- Maintain an armed forces
- Establish a postal system
- Enforce copyrights
- Sign treaties
Powers that are shared by
both the Federal and State Governments.
- Regulate intrastate trade
- Establish schools
- Establish local governments
- Pass statewide laws (ex. safety belt laws)
- Run elections
- Power to tax
- Maintain courts
- Borrow money