Federalism and the Modern World

Federalism and the Modern World

Federalism is a political ideology whereby a group of individuals are bound together by written or verbal agreement, set to govern themselves without fear of outside regulation.  In colonial America, federalism was initially the belief in a strong central government.  Early on, leaders like James Madison, known as the “Father of the Constitution,” was influential  as the fourth as one of the Founding Fathers of America who championed democracy, and as a legislative contributor, he helped write The Federalist Papers, which would serve as the foundation for the United States Constitution.  Prior to this literature, the United States was joined as a loose confederation of states with a weak central government.  The more theories on federalism emerged, the more solidified the government became. Throughout time, though, the relationship between the states and government has changed and modern day issues framed by the Constitution have direct links to Federalism ideologies; as concerns arise, the dual powers of state and federal governments must come to a decision in order to maintain balance.

Initially, Federalism intended to establish a political relationship between the states and the federal government.  Though not defined by the Constitution, Federalism is upheld through sections that describe the responsibilities of the state leaders to the government leaders, and vice versa.  Without this reciprocal relationship, one entity could have more power over another, creating discord in the balance.  What was not delegated by the Constitution, therefore, early politicians decided, would fall to the Supreme Court for determination. The Bill of Rights could only present so many rights and legalities for citizens, however, policy makers understood that there needed to be room for growth over the years; these changes would fall under the legal umbrella to be decided by the courts.The United States also upheld dual federalism, whereby both state and federal governments are sovereign, able to rule themselves with specific laws and regulations.  However, where discrepancies arose, the state governments could exert power.  For example, there exists a broad interpretation of the 10

The United States also upheld dual federalism, whereby both state and federal governments are sovereign, able to rule themselves with specific laws and regulations.  However, where discrepancies arose, the state governments could exert power.  For example, there exists a broad interpretation of the 10th Amendment and the Necessary and Proper Clause in the Constitution, enabling the states to gain more control than the government.  However, there has been a shift toward more cooperative federalism, whereby the federal government possesses the final say which then lends a different interpretation to the aforementioned areas of the Constitution; in Article One, Congress is given the power to make all laws.  Prior to the implementation of cooperative federalism, this idea was dependent upon the judgment of local governments.Thus, there are court cases and issues from our modern day that exemplify the arguments between state and local governments, both operating under the guise of The Constitution.  Two heated debates in our current day exist in marijuana possession and transgendered rights, both pitting state versus federal plans against one another.  The first, regarding marijuana, is a state regulated and federally regulated issue.  A man in Spokane, Washington in on trial for growing his own lot of marijuana, although he is

Thus, there are court cases and issues from our modern day that exemplify the arguments between state and local governments, both operating under the guise of The Constitution.  Two heated debates in our current day exist in marijuana possession and transgendered rights, both pitting state versus federal plans against one another.  The first, regarding marijuana, is a state regulated and federally regulated issue.  A man in Spokane, Washington in on trial for growing his own lot of marijuana, although he is cancer-stricken and utilizing it for medicinal purposes. Washington State allows medical marijuana growth in private sectors while Congress, as of 2012 has barred the Justice Department from interfering in personal marijuana growth.  However, federal officials find loopholes in the laws allowing them to keep after individuals in possession, attempting to disable the use and creation of this now, legal, substance.  The State would rather marijuana users to be left alone while the federal government keeps on in its challenge.  Thus, a trial now exists against the man’s, Larry Harvey, family, attempting to find them guilty of marijuana possession and growth since they are not the sick party.  Therefore, with different motives between state and federal governments, American citizens come under fire.The issue of transgendered rights is contested on both the federal and state levels as well.  The concept of gender identity, how one perceives oneself, falls into civil rights, protected by the American Civil Liberties Union.  Jessica Smalley, born a male yet identifies as female, was denied access to the female restroom at her YMCA in Iowa, even though other transgendered persons in her positions have won their days in court.  Fifteen states support anti-discrimination based on gender identity, however, the federal government has no definitive ruling or set of laws on the matter.  Possibly because it has only recently become an open concern, or possible due to the other side of the coin, that people who are both born and identify as women, should be the only ones to utilize a female restroom.  Therefore, the fact that some states support people like Smalley, and others are still deciding, challenges the power of the federal government as well as its placement regarding state decisions.

The issue of transgendered rights is contested on both the federal and state levels as well.  The concept of gender identity, how one perceives oneself, falls into civil rights, protected by the American Civil Liberties Union .  Jessica Smalley, born a male yet identifies as female, was denied access to the female restroom at her YMCA in Iowa, even though other transgendered persons in her positions have won their days in court.  Fifteen states support anti-discrimination based on gender identity, however, the federal government has no definitive ruling or set of laws on the matter .  Possibly because it has only recently become an open concern, or possible due to the other side of the coin, that people who are both born and identify as women, should be the only ones to utilize a female restroom.  Therefore, the fact that some states support people like Smalley, and others are still deciding, challenges the power of the federal government as well as its placement regarding state decisions .

Thus, federalism and cooperative federalism in America is a political system that works until it doesn’t.  The combination of state and federal entities enables a systematic approach to policy making, which benefitted the United States in the early days of inception and after historical events, has gradually changed as needed. However, nowadays, with more and more people challenging ideas written in the Constitution, and definitions being read more and more broad, the power between state and federal decision making has been blurred.  The true test of federalism is the ability to not only placate, but assist all citizens of the United States, no matter their arguments.

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