Consequences of Federalism.

1058 Words5 Pages
Federalism is the theory of government by which political power is divided between a national government and state government, each having their own area of substantive jurisdiction. Within US politics, this refers to the 2 layers of government designed to demonstrate national unity while accommodating for regional diversity. The theory of federalism in the USA represents ‘E Pluribus Unum’ and K.C Wheare describes the system as “The method of dividing powers so that the general and regional governments are each, within a sphere, co-ordinate and independent.” Despite the aims of federalism, there are a number of consequences. Firstly, there are legal consequences. Throughout the USA, there is a huge variety in state laws on such matters as the age at which people can marry, drive a car and have to attend school. Laws also vary on drugs and whether the death penalty is used. For example, Oregon allows doctor-assisted suicide, while states such as Florida would not. This prevents the creation of a national policy as the US government does not have a single policy on such issues, but instead, has 51 policies. The USA also has a complex legal system, having both national and state courts. Federalism in this sense thus leads to confusion, as what is legal in one state may be illegal in another, making it sometimes difficult for the central government and the people to distinguish between state laws and federal laws. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes writes “We are under a constitution, but the constitution is what the judges say it is.” The federal-state relationship is a continual source of conflict and controversy, and in these times the Supreme Court handles the issues. However, the federal constitution and the state constitution are open to individual interpretation. Federalism thus allows the Supreme Court to dictate the outcome, and without federalism, there may
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