In a federal government, power is distributed between the federal or national government and the state governments, both of which coexist with sovereignty. Under federalism, the states are not subordinate to the central government but independent of it. Federal republics further distribute the power of the national government between different branches.Continue Reading
National Paralegal College states that the purpose of a federal government is to allow the states a level of sovereignty, while centralizing government for affairs that affect the entire nation. Under federalism, the state and national governments typically handle different areas of politics. The federal government has authority over affairs like national security, war, coining money and international relations. The state governments are in charge of the affairs that most directly affect citizens: criminal law, birth, marriage and death records, traffic regulations and education. Whereas the Constitution only limits states insofar as they may not pass legislation contrary to what the Constitution dictates, the federal government is limited to only those actions that the Constitution specifically concedes to it.
USHistory.org describes federalism as a compromise between unitary government and a confederacy. As a result, although the states exist independently of the federal government, they are still ultimately subject to it. This distinguishes federal government from the confederate structure of the United States under the Articles of Confederation, according to which the national government was little more than an association of autonomous states.Learn more about Branches of Government
The federal government, under the powers of the U.S. Constitution, is given the power to make laws, veto laws, oversee foreign policy and national defense, impose tariffs, impeach officials, enter into treaties, interpret the Constitution, interpret laws and revise laws that allow one state to impede on the rights of another. Beyond that, the 10th amendment gives power to the states to govern themselves.Full Answer >
A devolution revolution is a major transfer of power from a central government to a subordinate unit of government. Devolution alleviates some of the inefficiencies present in centralized governments that govern a large geographic region. The period from the 1970s to the 1990s saw a major devolution revolution throughout the western world.Full Answer >
The judicial system's power relies on the structure of checks and balances in government. The judicial branch of government includes the Supreme Court, courts of appeal and district courts. The judicial branch checks both the executive and legislative branch, but it also follows balances from these two branches. It has the power to enforce law and order and protect the rights of the citizenry.Full Answer >
As is the case with other forms of government in American political theory, local governments derive their power from the people; in practice, local governments receive their authorization from their respective states. Local governments, be they counties, townships or municipalities, are expected to obey and enforce the state constitution and auxiliary legislation.Full Answer >