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Federalism in the United States


10th Amendment

part of the Bill of Rights, which states all powers not held or prohibited by the federal government belong to the states or to the people

Article 4

part of the Constitution that defines the relationships among states as well as the relationship between the national and state governments

commerce clause

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, of the U.S. Constitution, which grants Congress the authority to regulate both national and international commerce

concurrent power

political or legislative power granted to both state and federal governments that can be exercised independently or simultaneously

confederal system

political system with a weak or loose organization of states, under which the central government is granted limited authority by the constituent states

delegated power

power specifically identified and assigned in the U.S. Constitution

extradition clause

Article 4, Section 2, Clause 2, of the U.S. Constitution, which specifies an individual who flees from one state to another to escape prosecution or punishment must be extradited, or sent back, to the first state if requested by that state

federal preemption

doctrine based on the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, which holds that if there is a conflict between a higher law (federal) and lower law (state), federal law overrides state law


system of government in which power is divided and shared between two entities

fiscal federalism

theory of government that addresses how financial issues and functions are effectively divided among different levels of government, such as state and national

full faith and credit clause

Article 4, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution, which requires states to recognize and respect the laws and legal decisions of other states, as well as the rights and privileges of the citizens of other states


doctrine that states can stand between the federal government and their people to protect the people from a law or action they judge to be unconstitutional

interstate compact

agreement between two or more states, or the federal district, that enables them to solve shared problems

necessary and proper clause

clause 18 of Article 1, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution granting Congress the right to make any laws required to carry out Congress's specific powers listed in the Constitution


theory that a state has the legal right to declare a federal law that the state considers unconstitutional to be null and void within that state

police power

extent to which the federal or state government is permitted to exercise control over individuals to ensure the general security, health, safety, morals, and welfare of the public

privileges and immunities clause

Article 4, Section 2, Clause 1, of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes that "the Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens" of all the other states


withdrawal from the Union


ultimate authority of a state to govern itself without interference from outside governments or powers

supremacy clause

clause in Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution that establishes the U.S. Constitution as the supreme law of the land

unitary system

political system in which the central government holds most or all of the governing power