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the effort to transfer responsibility for many public programs and services from the federal government to the states


government authority shared by the national and state governments

Unitary System

Power centralized. States or regional governments derive authority from central government. (i.e. United Kingdom and France) Central Government --> States --> Citizens

Confederal system/ Confederation

A form of government in which sovereignty is wholly in the hands of the states and local governments, so the national government is dependent on their will.

"Necessary & Proper" (Elastic Clause)

section of the Constitution which has permitted Congress to exercise powers NOT SPECIFICALLY given to it (enumerated) by the Constitution

McCulloch v. Maryland

A Supreme Court decision that settled two issues. First, Congress can exercise powers not specifically mentioned in the Constitution if the power can be implied from an enumerated power. This authority is conferred by the "necessary and proper" clause. Second, the federal government is immune to taxation by the states.


the doctrine that a state can declare null and void a federal law that, in the state's opinion, violates the Constitution. Biggest advocate: John C. Calhoun

Dual Federalism/Layer-Cake Federalism

doctrine holding that the national government is supreme in its sphere, the states are supreme in theirs, and the two should stay separate

Cooperative Federalism

stresses federalism as a system of intergovernmental relations in delivering government goods and services to the people and calls for cooperation among various levels of government

Marble-cake Federalism

all levels of government are involved in a variety of of issues and programs (unlike dual federalism)


allow voters to place legislation directly on the ballot


procedure whereby voters can remove an elected official from office


procedure enabling voters to reject a measure passed by the legislation

10th Amendment

Powers reserved for states. It reads, "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.

Dred Scott v. Sanford

The Supreme Court ruled that a slave was property and had no rights. The Court also ruled that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional stating that the federal government could not prohibit slavery in territories

Gibbons v. Ogden

Clarified the commerce clause and affirmed Congressional power over interstate commerce


money given by the national government to the states

Categorical grants

federal grants for specific purposes, such as building an airport

Block grants

money from the national government that states can spend within broad guidelines determined by Washington

Revenue sharing

federal sharing of a fixed percentage of its revenue with the states

Conditions of Aid

terms set by the national government that states must meet if they are to receive certain federal funds


terms set by the national government that states must meet whether or not they accept federal grants

Enumerated powers/expressed powers

powers given to the national government alone

Implied powers

the powers exercised by Congress which are not explicitly given by the constitution itself but necessary and proper to execute the powers which are

Reserved Powers

powers given to the state governments alone

Concurrent Powers

powers shared by the national and state governments

Inherent powers

powers of the national government in 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. (These powers are applicable to all levels of government.)

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