US Federal System: 5 Basic Characteristics 1. Federalism provides a division of legal authority between state and national governments. Overlap occurs, but two legally distinct spheres of government exist. 2. The states are subordinate to the national government in such areas as management of foreign affairs and regulation of interstate
Federal systems of government represent a unique form to reconcile the need for unity and centralized rule for defense or economic purposes while enabling the accommodation of a degree of diversity.
- United States
- Concurrent Powers
- Further Reading
Federalism is a system of government in which the same territory is controlled by two levels of government. Generally, an overarching national government is responsible for broader governance of larger territorial areas, while the smaller subdivisions, states, and cities govern the issues of local concern. Both the national government and the smaller political subdivisions have the power to make laws and both have a certain level of autonomy from each other.
In the United States, the Constitution has established a system of “dual sovereignty,” under which the States have surrendered many of their powers to the Federal Government, but also retained some sovereignty. Examples of this dual sovereignty are described in the U.S. Constitution.
Concurrent powers refers to powers which are shared by both the federal government and state governments. This includes the power to tax, build roads, and create lower courts.
For more on federalism, see this Florida State University Law Review article, this Vanderbilt Law Review article, and this Stanford Law Review article.
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