Federalism

Federalism

This module in the Structural Constitution course highlights key debates about federalism: at the time of the ratification of the Constitution, throughout our history with the expansion of the scope of the Federal government through the Commerce Clause and the weakening of the state governments in the Civil War and later Amendments, and the state it is today.

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those that are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”

-Madison, Federalist No. 45

Questions to be explored included:

What did Federalism look like at the time of the Founding?  How did the state governments and the Articles of Confederation shape the writing of the Constitution?  In what ways was the text of the Constitution a compromise among representatives from different states?

What is the history of the Commerce Clause?  (and other clauses such as the Necessary and Proper clause that have been used to justify the expansion of the power of the federal government)  With the size and scope of the federal government today, do the states in any way exercise a meaningful check on its power?

What is “new federalism” and how is it different from the federalism in the early Republic leading to the Civil War?   Why does Federalism matter today?

We explore answers to these questions below.

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18 of 22: How Does the Difficulty of Legislating Protect Federalism? [No. 86]

It is frequently difficult to pass federal legislation because any law must be passed by both the House and Senate then signed by the President. Professor John McGinnis explains that this is an important protection for federalism. The states are free ... It is frequently difficult to pass federal legislation because any law must be passed by both the House and Senate then signed by the President. Professor John McGinnis explains that this is an important protection for federalism. The states are free to pass their own legislation that meets their particular needs without constant federal interference which would supersede their laws.

Professor John O. McGinnis is the George C. Dix Professor in Constitutional Law at Northwestern University School of Law.

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As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

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Other Videos in this Series

1

Who Decides? That is the Question... [No. 86]

2

Can Federal Courts Dictate State Law? [No. 86]

3

51 Imperfect Solutions [No. 86]

4

Was Federalism Designed to Protect Slavery? [No. 86]

5

Federalism: We All Have Roles to Play [No. 86]

6

Laboratories of Experimentation [No. 86]

7

Enumerated Powers, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and Prigg v. Pennsylvania [No. 86]

8

New Federalism: Not Your Father’s Federalism [No. 86]

9

Key Cases on the Commerce Clause [No. 86]

10

What Power Does Congress Have to Regulate Commerce? [No. 86]

11

McCulloch v. Maryland: The Debate About Enumerated Federal Powers [No. 86]

12

Is NFIB v. Sebelius a Commerce Clause Case? [No. 86]

13

Federalism as Another Separation of Powers [No. 86]

14

The Demand for Federalism [No. 86]

15

Does the Federal Government Use of Financial Power Over States Amount to Coercion? [No. 86]

16

What is the Purpose of Article IV? [No. 86]

17

Electoral Chaos & the Twelfth Amendment [No. 86]

18

How Does the Difficulty of Legislating Protect Federalism? [No. 86]

19

What Can the Federal Government Do Better than the States? [No. 86]

20

How Does Federalism Result in More Competent and Competitive Governance? [No. 86]

21

Does the Commerce Clause Apply Only to Commerce? [No. 86]

22

How Does the Constitution Adapt to New Concepts of Liberty? [No. 86]

About this Module

Total run time:

1h 10m

Course:

Total videos:

22

Difficulty:

First Year