Have you ever read the United States Constitution? If you have or have not, here are some great facts about the articles you will find in it and more information that I know will interest you regarding Federalism.
Article 1: Section 6-10
- Compensation for Senators and Representatives
- Representatives are protected from arrest and questioning regarding their debates/speeches without fear of reprisal or of being arrested.
- However, they are not protected if they do commit a crime such as treason.
- Circumstances under which laws can be passed. This section explains that all bills to raise revenue (tax bills) have to originate in the house of Representatives. This is because these Representatives serve for two years and are supposed to come from our community – these people are supposed to be most closely accountable to the public. This was intended so that if they were to propose a tax, we could vote them out if they are not voting as the will of public.
- How Bills are debated and presented to the President
- If the President is presented a bill and he does not want to sign it, he can let it sit for 10 days (not including Sunday), if he lets it sit for those ten days, while congress is in session, it becomes law.
- If the President is presented a bill and he does not want to affirmatively or negatively sign the bill and the ten days pass….and the house and senate adjourn, the Bill is vetoed. This is called a Pocket Veto.
Section 8: List of Items Govt MUST do
Section 8 provides a list of the scope of the Government – the Enumerated Powers
Here is a brief list. (Entire list can be found in the Constitution of the United States of America.)
- Borrow money on the credit of the U.s.
- Regulate commerce with foreign nations
- Establish an uniform rule of naturalization
- Coin Money
- Provide for punishment of counterfeiting securities
- Promote the progress of science and useful arts……..
Section 9: List of Items Govt can NOT do:
Here is a brief list of items listed in Article 1, Section 9. (Entire list can be found in the Constitution of the United States of America.)
- Importation of Slaves- Congress would not prohibit the importation of slaves until 1808 – but taxes could be imposed up to $10/person.
- No capitation,or other direct tax, shall be laid unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
- No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state…..
Section 10: List of what Individual States Can NOT do
Here is a brief list of items listed in Article 1, section 10
- No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law or law impairing the obligation of contracts or grant any title of nobility.
- No State, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary…
Federalism is a distribution of power that begins with each individual family all the way up to the Federal Level. We can also say this is a distribution of power from the Federal Level down to the individual person.
Federalism is another way of stating that power is not concentrated in one group of people.
Voting is very important, as this is how we distribute our vote for the local leaders – depending on how your local area voting laws are established.
Prior to the passage of the 17th Amendment, we had these state legislatures choosing US Senators. After the 17th Amendment was passed, this took away some state power/sovereignty. The reason it was passed was because the way the senators were being chosen/elected began to be corrupted by party insider plays, etc. This destroyed the ability for states to have a say in their representatives.
One of the most important ways Federalism works is that individual voters are not directly voting for the President. WE are voting for electors who vote on our behalf in the electoral college.
The Founding Fathers implemented the electoral college to place a hedge against direct democracy – to keep people from just voting based on emotion. At the beginning of our nation the voters would choose (from among their friends), they would choose people they respected the most to represent them in Congress. These were generally the more learned and of upright character. They were to go and meet together to select the President.
–Good men (general citizens) would select better men (representatives), who would then select the best man.
The reasoning for this is that not every person would have the time or knowledge to truly select the best person on our behalf.
Federalism not only impacts our votin, there is also Judicial Federalism.
Cases are held at the State level, then at the State appellate level, followed by the State Supreme Court. If there is a court case that has something to do with a constitutional liberty, then your case may be able to go into the Federal Court System.
This consists of the District Courts, Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.
This was a new concept in the world. The idea in America is that you have an attorney and you are able to appeal your case to the highest court possible, based on your situation.
Federalism is meant to PROTECT our Liberties! The Founding Fathers meant for various areas in Government to move slowly…in order to protect our liberties.
What have you learned about the Constitution and Federalism?
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