After almost a decade operating under the Articles of Confederation, the framers of our Constitution realized that the states had too much power. They felt they needed a different system. They wished to create a stronger federal government. The result was a balance of powers between the states and the federal government, with the federal government clearly in charge. This is the system of federalism we still use today.
The Constitution expressly grants broad powers to the federal government but not to the states. Instead, the Constitution stresses what the states can’t do. The addition of the Bill of Rights, including the Tenth Amendment, helped temper some of this imbalance. The Tenth Amendment gave the states all powers not delegated to the national government or denied to the states. In other words, under federalism, the states get to regulate whatever is left over.
For example, Article I, Section 8, grants Congress certain powers, such as coining money and declaring war. The following section prohibits the states from such things as coining money and declaring war.
The Supremacy Clause is an important part of federalism. This clause is the section of the Constitution stating that the Constitution and federal laws are the ‘Supreme Law of the Land.’
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