AP Government and Politics: Federalism Explained

Federalism is a crucial concept in the study of American government and politics, exploring the division of powers between the national government and state governments. Here's an overview to help you understand federalism for the AP Government and Politics Exam:

1. Definition of Federalism:

   - Concept: Federalism is a system of government in which power is divided and shared between a central (national) government and regional (state) governments.

   - Key Points: Recognize that both levels of government have independent authority and responsibilities.

2. Enumerated Powers:

   - Concept: Enumerated powers are specific powers granted to the federal government by the Constitution.

   - Key Points: Understand examples of enumerated powers, such as the power to coin money, regulate interstate commerce, and declare war.

3. Reserved Powers:

   - Concept: Reserved powers are powers not granted to the federal government and therefore reserved to the states.

   - Key Points: Recognize examples of reserved powers, including the regulation of intrastate commerce, education, and the establishment of local governments.

4. Concurrent Powers:

   - Concept: Concurrent powers are powers shared by both the federal and state governments.

   - Key Points: Understand examples of concurrent powers, such as the power to tax, borrow money, and establish courts.

5. Supremacy Clause:

   - Concept: The Supremacy Clause establishes the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties as the supreme law of the land.

   - Key Points: Recognize that conflicts between federal and state laws are resolved in favor of federal law.

6. Necessary and Proper Clause (Elastic Clause):

   - Concept: The Necessary and Proper Clause grants Congress the authority to make laws deemed necessary and proper for carrying out its enumerated powers.

   - Key Points: Understand how this clause expands the scope of federal power by allowing Congress to legislate beyond its enumerated powers.

7. Dual Federalism vs. Cooperative Federalism:

   - Concept: Dual federalism emphasizes a strict separation of federal and state powers, while cooperative federalism stresses collaboration and shared responsibilities.

   - Key Points: Recognize historical shifts between these models, such as during the New Deal era when cooperative federalism became prominent.

8. Marble Cake Federalism:

   - Concept: Marble Cake Federalism, also known as cooperative federalism, envisions the blending of federal and state powers.

   - Key Points: Understand how this model emphasizes intergovernmental cooperation to address complex issues.

9. Categorical Grants vs. Block Grants:

   - Concept: Categorical grants are specific grants for narrowly defined purposes, while block grants provide states with more flexibility in spending.

   - Key Points: Recognize the advantages and disadvantages of each type of grant and their impact on federal-state relations.

10. Devolution:

    - Concept: Devolution is the transfer of powers and responsibilities from the federal government to the states.

    - Key Points: Understand instances of devolution, such as welfare reform, and its implications for state autonomy.

11. McCulloch v. Maryland (1819):

    - Concept: This landmark Supreme Court case affirmed the supremacy of federal law over state law.

    - Key Points: Understand the Court's interpretation of the Necessary and Proper Clause and its implications for federal power.

12. United States v. Lopez (1995):

    - Concept: In this case, the Supreme Court limited Congress's power under the Commerce Clause.

    - Key Points: Recognize the Court's decision to strike down a federal law regulating guns near schools and its impact on federalism.

13. Obergefell v. Hodges (2015):

    - Concept: This Supreme Court case legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

    - Key Points: Understand how this case reflects the evolving nature of federalism and the balance between state and federal authority.

14. Dual Citizenship:

    - Concept: Dual citizenship refers to individuals being citizens of both the United States and a particular state.

    - Key Points: Recognize the concept's implications for legal rights and responsibilities at both the federal and state levels.

15. Evolution of Federalism:

    - Concept: Federalism has evolved over time in response to changing political, social, and economic circumstances.

    - Key Points: Understand how historical events, court decisions, and political shifts have shaped the dynamic relationship between the federal government and the states.

Mastering the principles of federalism is essential for success in the AP Government and Politics Exam. Consider exploring case studies, historical examples, and contemporary issues to deepen your understanding of how federalism operates in practice.