Federalism and separation of powers Essay

July 26, 2022 by Essay Writer

In the article it is clear that in the 2004 presidential election federalism was noticeably absent and no party candidate brought up issues that weighed down the states and localities. The contest was streamlined by the then on-going war against terrorism and the fluctuating conditions in Iraq.

While there was much progress on internal security, a continuation of intergovernmental wrangles over federal grants proceeded. In a number of policy areas such as healthcare, education and general environmental protection, the federal-state disputes were quite evident.

The economic growth rose as states encountered an increase in revenue but their financial state was fogged up by the rise in costs for education, Medicaid not leaving out employee pensions and prisons (Krane & Koenig 2005).

The decisions made by the United States’ Supreme Court with regards to cases where they ruled with a federal aspect has suggested that the court acted in a way to cut back power of the Congress instead of granting the states more power.

Most of the events that unraveled in the first Bush administration should be seen in a broader perspective against the changes that took place in the political party system. The Democratic Administration in 2004 only gave a suggestion in a federalism dimension that the resolution to outlaw (or not) gay marriage be handled by state governments.

Federalism in America has grown to be more nationalized and this is well demonstrated by the alterations that occurred in policy control as well as party organization in particular the Bush administration.

Federalism is a political ideology in which members of a group are bounded by an accord headed by a representative chair. Federalism illustrates a governmental system where sovereignty is divided between states and a central governing body according to the constitution.

It can also be used to describe a system where authoritative power is shared between constituent political units and a national government thus establishing a federation. Separation of powers refers to a systematic method in which a state or political unit is governed.

In this, there is a division of states into branches which have powers and responsibilities separate from each other and no branch exceeds the other in power. In accordance to the United States constitution, Article1 section 1 bestows the Congress “legislative powers herein granted” and further lists those acceptable actions in Article 1 Section 8 whereas section 9 gives a listing of forbidden measures by the Congress.

The concept of federalism

In the American constitution, specific powers were bestowed upon the national government and in the tenth amendment of 1791, it stated “the powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to states, are reserved to states, respectively, or to the people” (LaCroix 2010).

But over time, both economic and social transformations have resulted to a change in the balance of powers which is between the states and central government. One concept of federalism is the constitutional framework.

The constitution vividly favors the federal government when it comes to the balance of powers between the states and the federal government.

There are powers delegated to the central government such as Congress is to “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper” (Article1, Section 8) while little power is given to the states in comparison to the federal government (Zavodnyik 2011).

The constitution on the other hand gave the states power in some sectors for instance they were allowed to establish voter credentials and also create mechanisms that guided the congressional elections. The imbalance of power between the two was amended in the Tenth Amendment.

Under the concept of dual federalism, it was proposed that authority given to federal government be distinctive and have limitations with definite duties be assigned to national government and the rest of the tasks be given to the state governments.

And this indicates that the central government is prohibited from involving itself on the specialties given to the state government or else it would be violating the state constitutional right. In the US, cooperative federalism arose when federal governmental power increased in response to the Great Depression in the period of the New Deal.

It is emphatic that responsibilities of both state and federal government overlie each other and it gives a slack perception of the elastic clause which grants a go ahead of power to surge via federal government.

Concept of separation of powers

Under this concept, it contains a couple of fundamentals that is the ideology of three separate branches of the government which include the executive, legislature and the judiciary. The separation of powers which was designed by framers of the constitution aimed to avert any branch from having the majority rule.

In the Constitution of Virginia in 1776: “The legislature, executive and judiciary departments shall be separate and distinct, so that neither exercise the powers properly belonging to the other: nor shall any person exercise the powers of more than one of them at the same time.…” (LaCroix 2010).

In each of the three branches they have powers that are checked and balanced by another branch. For instance, the president has the power to appoint a judge but this appointment must have an approval by the senate.

These checks and balances compel the branches to have accountability over the other branch. Therefore, concluding that in the concept of separation of powers, no branch can have dominant power over the other.


Krane, D. & Koenig, H. (2005). The State of American Federalism, 2004: Is Federalism Still a Core Value? Publius 1-8.

LaCroix, A. L. (2010). The Ideological Origins of American Federalism. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Zavodnyik, P. (2011). The Rise of the Federal Colossus: The Growth of Federal Power from Lincoln to F.D.R. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO.

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