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Federalism in the United States.

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Federalism in the United States By Alex Brodie UVI 1. What is the "Inter State Commerce" Clause in the Constitution and why has it been so politically significant? Outline a recent Supreme Court case that illustrates this significance. The Inter State Commerce clause is Article 1, Section 8 of the American constitution. It gives congress the power to regulate trade and commerce between the states. However it has caused great disagreement throughout the 20th Century. The main disagreement surrounds the fact that Federal legislation can govern economic activity connected to interstate commerce but occurring within a state. It is argued that this is unconstitutional. Supporters of Federal intervention argue that literally everything is involved with commerce and so the clause should be broadly interpreted. This is what happened for a long time as the Supreme Court constantly enlarged the Federal Governments power over state's commerce. For example in 1824 in the Gibbons v. Ogden case, Justice Marshall ruled that the power to regulate interstate commerce also included power to regulate interstate navigation. He argued that "...the power of Congress does not stop at the jurisdictional lines of the several states. ...read more.


This was the first time a ruling had gone this way since the "New Deal" arguments of the 30's. 3. Distinguish between Dual and Cooperative Federalism. It is generally accepted that Dual Federalism is the term used to describe the relationship between the states and the federal government for the first 150 years of American politics. For the majority of the 20th Century, up until the 1960's, Cooperative Federalism was believed to be the best description of the relationship. In its simplest description Dual Federalism was known as "layer cake" due to both parts of government being distinctly separate and Cooperative Federalism was known as "marble cake" due to its merging of state and federal government. Tillson describes Dual Federalism as having "...clear distinctions between the separate and equal spheres of activity of state and national government..." There was also a lot of argument over economic development and regulation. Yet both governments did cooperate on certain issues such as the development of the United States. There was virtually no financial cross over although limited grants were provided for universities and transport. ...read more.


Due to the Great Depression, America looked to their government for help. As Tillson says, "...The New Deal embodied the view that a national crisis requires a centralised response..." This, at the time, was a brave new view of how America should be run. The Supreme Court, for one, was against it. In 1935 it ruled that the National Recovery Administration was unconstitutional and commenting that "extraordinary conditions do not create or enlarge constitutional power". However the Court came round to public opinion by 1937 when numerous decisions were reversed, the National Labour Relations Board vs. Jones & Laughlin being a landmark case where federal government took control over labour relations. It also took power of certain areas of economic regulation and set up a welfare state of sorts, in the form of the Social Security Act of 1935. This act resulted in "...different levels of government working together towards common objectives to overcome the challenges of poverty, unemployment and homelessness..." (Tillson). Many social support programs were still under state control but still with federal limitations. Finally there was Eisenhower who tried to implement more state power by setting up the Commission on Inter governmental Relations. However it found little use to changing the system, proving that at that time cooperative federalism was the way forward. ...read more.

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