Federalism Essay, Research Paper
Due to the immense power of our federal government, people often argue that it is too
powerful and should be lessened. Since the 1990?s there has been an effort to shift power
from the federal government to the states. States? rights has been an issue since our
country was first founded, and even now we can?t seem to please everyone?s requests at
This country was founded with the attempt to separate the federal government and
the state government, known as federalism. The goal of federalism is to divide the power
of state and federal governments, protect the rights of the state (through the 10th
amendment), prevent tyranny of the majority, and have a government that is close to its
people. Throughout the years, federalism turned into dual federalism where the state and
federal government were completely independent of each other and only shared a
dependency on the Constitution. What we have now is known as cooperative federalism.
In cooperative federalism, the national government has assumed even more power, it now
supersedes the states with its Supreme Court decisions/actions, Acts of Congress,
Some Americans fear that the federal government will become too strong and soon
the states will have no power. With the emergence of unfunded mandates, states were
required to follow the rules or they would be punished by the federal government. Some
unfunded mandates included the Clean Air Act, where each state must have a plan to
significantly lower the amount of pollution emitted, and the Americans with Disabilities
Act which required both public and private institutions to make their facilities accessible
for those with disabilities. The federal government did not provide any financial help when
an unfunded mandate was passed, the state government has to cut into its budget to avoid
its punishment. The federal government felt mandates were important because without
them people would abuse the rights of others and also because state budgets would not
allow for their undoing. A stop to the passing of mandates occurred in 1995 with the
Unfunded Mandates Act. The act could limit the mandates passed, but had no authority to
change previous mandates.
With the passing of the Unfunded Mandates Act, the federal government hopes to
give more power to the states and restore some of the values of early federalism. Their
effort to shift power back to the states is a slow process, but it is necessary.
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