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devolution revolution

the effort to slow the growth of the federal government by returning many functions to the states.


constitutional arrangement whereby power is distributed between a central government and subdivisional governments, called states in the United States; the national and subdivisional governments both exercise direct authority over individuals.

unitary system

constitutional arrangement in which power is concentrated in central government.


constitutional arrangement in which sovereign nations or states, by compact, create a central government but carefully limit its power and do not give it direct authority over individuals.

express powers

powers specifically granted to one of the branches of the national government by the Constitution.

implied powers

powers inferred from the express powers that allow Congress to carry out its functions.

necessary and proper clause

clause setting forth the implied powers of Congress; it states that the Congress, in addition to its express powers, has the right to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying out all powers vested by the Constitution in the national government.

inherent powers

powers of the national government in the field of foreign affairs that the Supreme Court has declared do not depend on constitutional grants but rather grow out of the very existence of the national government.

commerce clause

clause that gives the Congress the power to regulate all business activities that cross state lines or affect more than one state or other nations.

federal mandate

a requirement posed by the federal government as a condition for the receipt of federal funds.

concurrent powers

powers that the Constitution gives to both the national and state governments, such as the power to levy taxes.

full faith and credit clause

clause requiring each state to recognize the civil judgments rendered by the courts of the other states and to accept their public records and acts as valid.


legal process whereby an alleged criminal offender is surrendered by the officials of one state to officials of the state in which the crime is alleged to have been committed.

interstate compact

an agreement among two or more states; Constitution requires that most such agreements be approved by Congress.

national supremacy

constitutional doctrine that whenever conflict occurs between the constitutionally authorized actions of the national government and those of a state or local government, the actions of the federal government prevail.


the right of a federal law or regulation to preclude enforcement of a state or local law or regulation.


people who favor national action over action at the state and local levels.


people who favor state or local action rather than national action.

states' rights

powers expressly or implicitly reserved to the states and emphasized by decentralists.

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