Thursday, October 19, 2017

Midterm FRQ

Here is today's abbreviated schedule:

Today is the second part of the midterm exam, the FRQ. Let's roll the die and see what happens!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Federalism in Focus: The Legalization of Marijuana and the CSA

Wednesday: Midterm Exam M/C
Thursday: Midterm Exam FRQ

Medicinal marijuana is now legal in nearly two dozen states, and several states have even legalized it for recreational purposes. These states are in direct conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) which classifies marijuana as a Class 1 drug. How can states legalize marijuana while it remains prohibited at the federal level? Is this a violation of the supremacy clause? How does the 10th Amendment play into this debate?

Here is President Obama's administration's stance:  US Government's memo to the states on federal enforcement of marijuana laws.

Read this editorial on the legalization of marijuana and the conflict with federal law.
  • Should states be able to pick and choose what federal laws they will choose to follow?
  • How does the Court's decision in Printz v. US relate to states' enforcement of federal law?
If states are able to legalize marijuana, what are the problems posed by prohibition at the federal level?

Monday, October 16, 2017


Reading due WednesdayRead 113-123 

Midterm M/C on Wednesday
Midterm FRQ on Thursday (Potential FRQs)

The devolution revolution (sometimes referred to as Nixon's New Federalism) is characterized by power shifting from the national government back to the states. Since FDR's New Deal, power has gradually concentrated with the federal government. Starting with Nixon in the 1970s, continuing with Reagan in the 1980s, and culminating with President Clinton, a Republican-led Congress, and a more conservative court in the 1990s, devolution has increased state power in some respects while limiting the power of the national government.

Several examples of New Federalism/devolution include:

  • Revenue sharing (1970s-1986)
  • Increase in use of block grants (i.e. Welfare Reform Act of 1996)
  • Major Court decisions (i.e. US v. Lopez, 1995)
Not everyone supports the devolution movement though. In The Devil in Devolution, John Donahue raises several serious criticisms about the effectiveness of allowing states the power and discretion to make public policy. Here are several discussion questions from the article:


  1. What is devolution?  Do you think Donahue supports devolution or not?  Explain your answer.

  1. What is the “Problem of the Commons”?

  1. How do each of the following illustrate the problems of devolution?

  • Presidential primaries
  • Divorce and same –sex marriage
  • Environmental legislation
  • Legalized gambling

  1. How would defenders of states’ rights refute Donahue’s arguments?
  1. What are the negative consequences of regulating and legislating at the national level in such a diverse country?

Democracy in Action Video: Section 3-Welfare Reform (start at 17:00)

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Supreme Court & Federalism

Reading for Friday: Read 102-113 in Janda
Reading for Monday: Read Devil in Devolution by Donahue and be prepared to discuss in class these questions.
Midterm Exam next week!

The Supreme Court has decided many cases dealing with issues of federalism. Today, we will look at several of these cases and see how the Court's ruling impacted state-national relations.

Please use this form to read about the Court cases and fill out this chart to record your findings.

Other resources:

US v. Lopez (PBS Landmark Cases)

US v. Lopez (Bill of Rights Institute)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Federalist 39 & McCulloch v. Maryland

Reading for Friday: Read 102-113 in Janda
Reading for Monday: Read Devil in Devolution by Donahue and be prepared to discuss in class these questions.

Video Review on Conditions of Aid & Mandates

The central debate between Federalists and Anti-Federalists was where power was going to be located. Anti-Federalists were convinced that power would be consolidated into a national government, while Federalists insisted that power would be shared between the two levels. In Federalist 39, Madison clarifies the republican nature of the newly proposed government and how it exemplifies shared powers between a national government and the states.

  1. How does Madison define a republic?
  1. What arguments does he offer for the republican character of the Constitution? Provide three specific examples to illustrate the republican principles of the Constitution.
  1. How does Madison respond to the claim that the Constitution created a national rather than a federal (what we consider confederal) form of government? What different aspects of the Constitution does he consider in responding to that claim?
  1. What historical events or trends have changed the balance of power between the states and the federal government?

  1. What are the two central questions raised by this case?
  1. How does the Court answer these two questions?  What rationale (constitutional clauses) does the Court use to explain its decision?
  1. Compare the Court’s reasoning with the concerns raised by Brutus regarding the power of the government.
  1. How would our nation be different today if the Court had decided differently?

A few more resources on Federalist 39 and McCulloch v. Maryland:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fiscal or Regulatory Federalism

Reading for Friday: Read 102-113 in Janda
Homework due Thursday: Read Federalist 39 and Key Excerpts from McCulloch v. Maryland   Be prepared to answer these Discussion Questions on Thursday.
Midterm Exam next week!

One relationship that has dramatically changed over the past century is the redistribution of money from the federal government to the states. Typically, this transfer of money is through either the use of block grants or categorical grants. Today, we will take a look at the differences between the two and the impact on federal control and regulations.

CBO Report on Federal Grants to States

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dual Federalism & Cooperative Federalism

HW Reminder: Read 92-102 
Homework due Thursday: Read Federalist 39 and Key Excerpts from McCulloch v. Maryland   Be prepared to answer these Discussion Questions on Thursday.
Midterm Exam next week!

Federalism can take many different forms. Dual federalism and cooperative federalism are historically the two main descriptors of how federalism has worked in the United States.

Read this page on dual and cooperative federalism and this one on the differences between dual and cooperative federalism to get a better understanding of the differences between the two. As you read, take notes (using a double-column chart) about the significant points and differences between the two. Cliff Notes also has a nice summary of dual and cooperative federalism.

Key questions:

1. How would you define dual federalism? When did it dominate American politics?
2. How would you define cooperative federalism? When did it dominate American politics?
3. How does the layer cake/marble cake metaphor apply to these two forms of federalism?
4. What features of the Constitution are relevant in the debate between dual and cooperative federalism?
5. What caused the shift in the 1930s from dual to cooperative federalism?

Check for Understanding: Take this 10 question Quia quiz to see if you understand the differences between dual and cooperative federalism. Remember to put your hour # before your last name (ex. 1Gates)