STUDENT Power to the States ICIVICS (1).pdf - Power to the States Name Fifty Sovereign Nations The United States is exactly what its name says a group

STUDENT Power to the States ICIVICS (1).pdf - Power to the...

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Reading ̶ Side A Power to the States! Name: © 2016 iCivics, Inc. Fifty Sovereign Nations? The United States is exactly what its name says: a group of states united together to form a single nation. But what are these states? Are they independent nations? Just areas of land with boundaries drawn around them? A state is a geopolitical unit that has sovereignty —the authority to govern itself. Mexico and China are states, but so are Georgia and Pennsylvania. The difference is, Mexico and China have complete authority inside their borders, just like all sovereign nations do. Georgia and Pennsylvania could have had that, too, but they chose not to. After winning independence from Great Britain and basically becoming a group of sovereign nations, the states in the U.S. gave some of their authority away by agreeing to a little contract called the United States Constitution. Power Sharing The Constitution is really just an agreement that the original states put together in order to form a nation they could all be part of. That nation needed a government, and that government needed power. There was only one place that power could come from: the states. Each state already had its own leaders, laws, and legal system. Each state had also developed its own constitution years before the U.S. Constitution was written. The states held all the power, and in order to empower a central government, states would have to give up some of their own. Generally speaking, states did not love this idea. They worried that a government too far from the people, with too much power, could destroy individual liberty. Let’s Just Be Clear... In the Constitution, the states created a federalist system where they would share power with a central government and give it a specific list of powers. Because states were so freaked out about giving away any power at all, the 10th Amendment to the Constitution makes it super clear how the power-sharing between the states and the federal government was supposed to work: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. In other words, if the Constitution doesn’t specifically give a power to the U.S. government or prohibit states from having it, then state governments (or the people) keep that power. Powers the states kept are called reserved powers . What the States Gave Up The list of powers the states gave the federal government in the Constitution are called expressed powers because they are directly stated. Even though states didn’t like giving up power, some things just made sense—for example, it would be pretty messy to have thirteen different states declaring war, so that power went to the federal government. Other examples include the power to maintain a military, make treaties with other nations, coin money, and make rules about who gets to be a U.S. citizen. Ultimately, the states tried to give the federal government only the powers that were absolutely necessary for a strong nation that could run smoothly.
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