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Federalism and State Powers

Definition Of Federalism

Federalism may be characterized as a system of government under which power is divided between the national government and various state governments. An important feature of federalism is that the national and state governments are each supreme, or sovereign, within their own sphere of power. However, the national government may enact legislation which directly effects the states' citizens without seeking the states' consent.

Under this dual system of sovereignty, the national government is granted those powers which facilitate the efficient operation of a central authority, as well as compel the respect of other countries. By way of example, it is empowered to regulate commerce between the states, lay and collect taxes, and declare war. Through representation in Congress, the citizens of each state are assured of participation in the national government and are provided with an avenue by which to protect and promote local interests.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationGreat American Court CasesFederalism and State Powers - Definition Of Federalism, History Of Federalism In America, Present-day Relationship Between National Government States