Learning objectives

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Chapter 3


After students have read and studied this chapter, they should be able to:

  • Define three ways of ordering relations between a central government and regional or local governments.

  • Describe the historical arguments for and against federalism in the United States.

  • Identify and explain the division of powers between the national and state governments in the American federal system.

  • Explain the supremacy clause and its implications.

  • Explain the obligations states have to each other.

  • Explain the constitutional questions posed in McCulloch v. Maryland and Gibbons v. Ogden and how the Supreme Court resolved these issues.

  • Explain the importance of the commerce clause.

  • Explain the impact of the Civil War on federalism.

  • Explain the rights granted by the Civil War amendments, and their impact on federalism.

  • Describe dual federalism as it evolved after the Civil War.

  • Explain how dual federalism was replaced by cooperative federalism and how the Supreme Court’s resistance to cooperative federalism came to an end.

  • Explain the tools of cooperative federalism, including categorical grants and block grants.

  • Describe the impact of federal mandates on state and local governments.

  • Explain why conservatism has been associated with states’ rights and how the national government has been a force for change.

  • Explain the “new Federalism” adopted since the 1970s by the Republican Party.

  • Explain recent Supreme Court rulings affecting federalism.

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