Federalism Essay, Research Paper
The current state of federalism in the United States is of one of peril, plagued with recent Supreme Court rulings, current debates over the devolution of Federal powers, and variance in State governing. The United States has always been troubled with the role of the Federal government V. State government on numerous issues. Since around the time of the Great Depression, the federal government was charged with the taking care of the American public in many social and economic matters. Congress was then granted by the Supreme Court almost complete power in passing any sort by legislation by relating it somehow to the Commerce Clause. The Commerce Clause found in Section 8, Article I, United States Constitution, states that Congress may regulate any and all commerce between foreign nations and the states. Congress simply related almost all legislature in some way to intrastate commerce, therefore making the passing of their legislation constitutional. This system was greatly used by Congress for almost sixty years, when, in the late nineteen-eighties and early nineteen-nineties many individuals and special interests groups challenged the constitutionally of these laws passed by Congress using the Commerce Clause. In several cases, such as United States v. Lopez, Congress was dealt a powerful blow and the states seemed to gain an upper hand. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that Congress had exceeded its authority under the Commerce Clause by enacting the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. This, along with many other laws repealed by the Supreme Court, weakened Federal control and gave power back to the states, a grievous mistake in my opinion. This increased the strains on the role of federalism in the United States and once again brought up the question, who has the power to govern what? In addition to this, federalism has taken a frightful turn with the current debates of devolution, or returning power to the states. Many current Congressmen and citizens alike believe that states should have a greater level of sovereignty and that federal power should be weakened so as to strengthen state governments. In contrast, many others believe that the Federal government should be allowed more power. This and other conflicting ideas have lead to a constant strain on the abilities of the government to best carry out its duties. Also, many fear the division of individual state laws. Numerous laws in states are already varied greatly. A convicted felon may be given 5 years imprisonment in one state while receiving 10 years for the same offense in another state. This variance of laws and restrictions only grows, as the federal government is devoluted in favor of state rights. The United States once had to fight a civil war over the same issue some 140 years ago. Hopefully, we can resolve the issue in a simpler way this time around.