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The role of the Federal Government and Comparisons

1. The founding fathers of United States had formulated a balanced government based on Federalism. There existed two kinds of federalism; Dual and cooperative. In dual federalism, the powers of the Federal and state governments were equal. The co-operative federalism had the view that the Federal government and state governments should cooperate in administrative matters, but in reality it was not so. There was a gradual shift from dual federalism to the co-operative federalism. The changes were made by the rulings of the Supreme Court of United States. The first major decision by the Supreme Court came in the case of McCulloch v Maryland (1819). Chief Justice John Marshall upheld the power of the national government and denied the rights of the state to tax the bank. Other two important rulings by the Supreme Court were in the cases of Gibbons v Ogden (1824) and Dred Scott v Sanford (1857). The opposition to the exceeding authority of the Federal government was controlled during the Jacksonian era (1829-37).
During the 1930s, the political and social climate of the country enabled the Federal government to take dominance over the state laws. National laws and amendments to the constitution had taken many powers of the states. There were sincere moves on the part of President Richard Nixon to restore the powers of states in the name of new federalism. One barrier of granting state autonomy was the federal mandates. The Federal government had agreed that it is an obstacle to the states in exercising autonomy.
The actions of federal government were routed by some of the rulings of the Supreme Court. Some of the important cases connected this were United States v Lopez (1995), Gun Free School Zones Act (1990), and Printz v United States (1997). Other examples of Federal supremacy can be seen in the cases; United States v Morrison, Alden v Maine (1999), and Kimel v Florida Board of Regents. In all the above mentioned cases, the Supreme Court declared that the actions of the Federal governments were unconstitutional and upheld the authority of the state governments. In short, we can understand that the Federal government has indeed misused its authority and played on state's rights. It was true that the Supreme Court in the beginning, ruled in favor of the Federal government, but it also took care to uphold the rights of the state governments. The power of judicial review granted by the constitution helped create a balance between the powers of the Federal government and states.

2. Comparison of two Periods: The Constitutional convention/ratification and New Deal

The constitutional convention was convened on May 25, 1787 at Philadelphia. All the states were participated in the convention except the Rhode Island. The first issue was regarding the representation of the states in the new government. Two plans were considered; New Jersey and Virginia plans. Small states feared that they would loose their representation in the Federal government. Virginia plan actually aimed to diminish the powers of the states. Great Compromise put an end to it. In the Great Compromise, bicameral legislatures were introduced. There was equal representation in the senate. The lower house of the congress, the House of Representative had representations based on proportion of the population of the states. The anti-federalists were critical of the constitution submitted before the states in 1787 for ratification. They were not opposed to a federal set up, but they believed that the proposed constitution would give too much power to the national government. The Bills of Rights were added to the constitution as a result of the insistence of the anti-federalists. During the period of New Deal, Roosevelt followed a policy of cooperation between Federal government and states. This kind of cooperation between Federal government and states were referred as the cooperative federalism. The pattern of relationship between national government and states had earned another name known as the "marble cake." Eventhough, there was cooperation between the Federal government and states, in reality, the functions and powers of the national government were much expanded. Many social programs introduced during this period were executed with the cooperation of center and states and hence there developed a system known as Federal-grant-in aid. The Supreme Court had allowed it to expand as desired by the Federal government.

Solution Preview

1. The intentions of the founding fathers regarding the organization of American government were obvious. It was a balanced government based on Federalism. Today, Federal government had overstepped its authority over the states. This is clear when we glance through the constitutional history of United States. We can find two kinds of federalism; Dual federalism and cooperative federalism. In dual federalism the powers of the Federal and state governments were equal. The co-operative federalism has the view that Federal government and state governments should cooperate in administrative matters, but in reality it was no so. There was a gradual shift from dual federalism to the cooperative federalism. The changes were made by the rulings of the Supreme Court of United States.

The first major decision by the Supreme Court came in the case of McCulloch v Maryland (1819). The court ruled in favor of the national government. Chief Justice John Marshall upheld the power of the national government and denied the right of the state to tax the bank. In the case of Gibbons v Ogden (1824), the Supreme Court gave the ruling that under the commerce clause, the congress had unlimited authority other than those prescribed ...

Solution Summary

This is a solution to understand whether the Federal government has exceeded its authority over the states or not. It also compares and contrast two periods in American constitutional history; the Constitutional convention/ratification and the New Deal.

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