Federal Government versus State Government

Federal Government versus State Government

The United States comprises fifty states and five territories plus the capital and the district of Washington DC. Each of the states has a state government, all of which are united by the Constitution under the federal government. The president heads the executive arm of the federal government that has fifteen departments. The legislative body of the federal government is the Congress, and the Supreme Court heads its judicial system (Constitution.laws.com, 2015).

On the other hand is the state government. It has the mandate to govern a state. Each of the states has a governor as the head of government. He is elected by the people. Most of the states have a bicameral parliament with an upper house and a lower house. In most cases also, the executive is plural where the high most office holders are elected just like the governor such as the commissioner of education (Swisher & Schwartz, 2003).

There has always been a power struggle between the state government and the federal government. The power struggles originate from denied powers, overlapping duties and powers as well as the jurisdiction of both governments on certain matters. There are some powers that are explicitly denied to either the state or the federal government, whereas others are shared, and some are not even defined by the laws.

As a matter of legal fact, the constitution and the federal laws supersede all state laws (Swisher & Schwartz, 2003). Any by-law made by the state must be in tandem with the provisions of the federal laws and the supreme law of the United States. The authority of the federal government is quite broad with regard to specific matters that affect the country than the authority commanded by the state governments.

There is supposed to be a balance of power between the federal government and the state government according to the provisions of the federal system. For instance, both governments collect taxes, borrow money and make laws (Constitution.laws.com, 2015). All these function are executed with regards to the needs of the people. With regard to the people, James Madison in his articles in the Federalist papers argues that the formation of the federal system is foremost an agreement by the people to surrender power.

The two governments are mandated to control each other. Federal laws prohibit the states from hindering people’s movements across state borders. The states may need to seal their borders against intrusion from foreigners, but they do not have the mandate. Also, the states cannot control immigration because it is the sole responsibility of the federal government. The immigrants are posted by the federal powers in the immigration department.

The champions of state sovereignty would argue that the states have no sovereign power at all (Swisher & Schwartz, 2003). This argument is drawn from the fact that the states, with all their working systems of legislation, judicial system and executive cannot be recognized by the international community of nations such as the UN as individual states. They must fall under the banner of USA.

The arbiter of state and federal power balance, the Supreme Court, may be affected by the federal political cards of appointments to the court. This means that the independence and impartiality of the court in deciding matters of state sovereignty may be doubted. The scope of such matters makes the sovereignty of states be compromised at times.

Works Cited

Constitution.laws.com. Federal Versus State Power  constitution | Laws.com. 2015. Web. 1          December 2015, from http://constitution.laws.com/supreme-court-criticisms/federal- versus-state-power

Swisher, C., & Schwartz, B. The Powers of Government: Federal and State Powers: The Powers of the President. Political Science Quarterly 79.1 (2013): 120.

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