Political Science Question


Recall that the authors of the Constitution largely took the authority of individual states over state affairs as a given, based on the colonial history of the region. At the same time, they recognized that a system of government where states held most of the political power, such as under the Articles of Confederation, did not work. Their response to both of these the development of a governmental system governed by the concept of federalism, the principle that the power to govern is shared between the federal government and state governments. The term “federalism” was not included within the Constitution, but the Constitution nonetheless outlined federalism by including roles for the states explicitly, as well as implicitly acknowledging their role in local governance. The end result of this approach was that the federal government would have authority over some issues and the state government has authority over others. Based on what you have learned about the authors of the Constitution, think about why they created the system of federalism as they did. Consider also how this system might create conflict or cooperation and how that could then affect citizens.

In addition, Think back to last week’s discussion of separation of powers. Why did the authors of the Constitution set up a divided system of government at the federal level? How was federalism the result of a similar approach? How is the concept of separation of powers distinct, in practice, than that of federalism?


In this written assignment, you will examine the Constitutional basis of federalism. In so doing you will contrast the concept of federalism with the separation of powers and then investigate federalism by examining a topic of your choice, and how it demonstrates the concept of federalism at both the national and state level. In your investigation, make sure to discuss potential points of tension and/or cooperation that can arise between states and the national government on your issue of choice.

First, choose a topic from the list below:

  • Infrastructure
  • Healthcare
  • Environment
  • Criminal justice
  • Civil rights
  • Social programs
  • Education

You must be able to explain why both the federal and state governments have power to make law in relation to the chosen topic. After choosing your topic, you will have to find specific examples of how federalism impacts the way in which everyday Americans experience your chosen topic. To do so, go to the UAGC Library’s Library OneSearch and click on advanced search. For the search terms, enter “United States,” “federalism,” and your chosen topic. Click on the box for scholarly/peer-reviewed articles, and then click search. Explore the list of articles to find at least two specific examples that interest you. You will need to use at least two separate scholarly articles from the library for this assignment.

Once you have completed your research and found your examples, write a two- to three-page (five paragraph) paper.

In your paper,

  • Explain federalism as it is used in the United States, its constitutional basis, and compare it to the separation of powers (one body paragraph)
  • Examine the legal basis for the federal government and state governments to make laws regarding your topic based upon the examples you chose (one body paragraph)
  • Examine the way in which federalism impacts the way in which Americans experience the topic you have chosen. Make sure to discuss tensions and/or instances of cooperation that may arise between the federal and state government on this topic (One paragraph)
  • Clearly identify Constitutional articles, federal or state laws, court cases, government entities or other relevant factors in your paper.

The Federalism vs. Separation of Power paper

  • Must be two to three double-spaced pages in length (not including title and references pages) and formatted according to APA Style

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