Federalism Timeline

  • Articles of Confederation

    Articles of Confederation
    As Americans were scared of creating a powerful central government, they created the Articles of Confederation, which called for a weak national government. The Articles contained the bare minimum for government to function, if at all really. Throughout its existence, the national government lacked funds, unable to resolve interstate disputes, and unable to provide for a national defense. The Articles of Confederation increased the power of the states, for the national government had no power.
  • Constitutional Convention

    After seeing the inconsistencies of the Articles of Confederation, delegates arrived in Pennsylvania to create a better form of government. They created the US Constitution at the convention, which restructured the entirety of the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution allowed for the national government to collect taxes, regulate interstate commerce, and establish a military, among other things. These powers gave the national government more power, instead of keeping the power state-wide.
  • Elastic Clause or Necessary and Proper Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 18)

    This is in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution and it grants Congress the power to make laws that are necessary for carrying out the enumerated powers. Some have thought this would give government too much power, but it has proven to be effective in certain cases (i.e. Bank of the United States). The Elastic Clause strengthens the power of the national government because it gives Congress additional powers that are not specifically listed in the Constitution.
  • Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3)

    The clause states that Congress shall have the power "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes." The Commerce Clause describes an enumerated power listed in the US Constitution. Because it is an enumerated power and it gives Congress the power to regulate commerce over the states, it strengthens the power of the national government. States cannot regulate interstate commerce, only Congress, a power national government has over states.
  • Supremacy Clause (Article 6, Section 2)

    The Supremacy Clause states that the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties are the supreme law of the land. If a state law were to contradict a federal law, the federal law will always be supreme. This clause was used in Gibbons v. Ogden and McCulloch v. Maryland. The Supremacy Clause increases national power, because it makes the laws and treaties created under it supreme.
  • 10th Amendment

    10th Amendment
    The 10th Amendment was passed to appease those who favored strong state government. The 10th Amendment states, "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." Since the 10th Amendment guarantees a number of rights and freedoms to the states, it increases state power.
  • McCulloch v. Maryland

    Congress chartered the Bank of the United States and Maryland tried to tax the bank. McCulloch refused to pay the tax. The Supreme Court held that Congress had the power to incorporate the bank. However, Maryland could not tax the bank. Chief Justice Marshall used the Necessary and Proper Clause and Supremacy Clause to support his argument. Ultimately, this lead to an increase of national power because the court held that states are subordinate and cannot tax national institutions.
  • Gibbons v. Ogden

    Gibbons, a steamboat owner who did business between states under a federal license, partnered with Ogden. Ogden did business within state boarders. Marshall concluded that regulation of navigation for conducting interstate commerce is a power reserved for Congress under the Commerce Clause. This case increased the power of the federal government because Marshall referred to the Constitution and found that states do not have the right to pass legislation that is inconsistent with federal law.
  • Dred Scott v. Sandford

    Dred Scott v. Sandford
    Dred Scott was a slave from Missouri. From 1833 to 1843, he resided in a free state. Dred Scott filed a suit and believed that claiming his residence in a free state declares him as a free man. Dred Scott lost the case and the Supreme Court said that any African American whose ancestors were imported to the US are not American citizens. This case gave power to the states because the federal government could not regulate slavery in the territories.
  • Civil War

    The Civil War began when the Confederate army fired on Fort Sumter. When this happened, Lincoln called in people to suppress the south's actions. By the end, the Union won against the Confederacy, which called for more power to the national government. Instead of states becoming separate little governments, they joined the Union once more and agreed to get rid of slavery. This united the United States as a nation, which increased the power of the national government going into Reconstruction.
  • 14th Amendment

    The 14th Amendment was one of the Reconstruction amendments, which sought to create equal protection under the law and citizenship for slaves. As the south still wanted to hold slaves, they were bitter about this amendment. However, they passed it into legislation to regain representation in Congress. The passage of this amendment created stronger national power. The goal of the Reconstruction Era was to fix the inconsistencies with slavery and healing as a nation.
  • 16th Amendment

    The 16th Amendment gives Congress the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, without regard to any census or enumeration and without apportionment among the states. The 16th Amendment increased national power by allowing the federal government to levy income taxes without those restrictions. Since they got rid of the restrictions, it increases the federal government's power over the states.
  • Gitlow v. New York

    Gitlow v. New York
    Gitlow was arrested for distributing pamphlets that promoted socialism. He felt as though his first amendment rights were being overlooked. Because he was spreading anti-government attitudes and hateful speech toward the government, New York thought it did not count as first amendment rights. Because New York won, the case can be an example of an increase in state power. Instead of siding with the national government (1st Amendment), the Supreme Court ruled in favor of what New York had to say.
  • The New Deal

    The New Deal was a series of acts aimed to combat the Great Depression. The New Deal attempted to create more jobs and provide cheap housing, among other things. The acts strengthened the American national government, because people looked more toward the national government to fix their issues rather than charities. The national government used its legislation to take a stronghold in American business, which increased its federal power.
  • Brown v. Board of Education

    African American students had been denied admittance to some southern public schools based on laws allowing public education to be segregated based on race. They argued that such segregation was a violation of the 14th Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled that separate but equal facilities is unequal and violates the Equal Protection Clause and 14th Amendment. Thus, this gives more power to the national government to rule against the southern states' laws on segregation.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed into legislation under Lyndon B. Johnson and was instrumental in ensuring equality among all Americans. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, and gender. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is an example of an increase of national power, as it combated the discrimination and hatred attitudes of the southern states during that time.
  • Election of Ronald Reagan

    Election of Ronald Reagan
    President Ronald Reagan served two terms in office and his policies were conservative. He created large tax cuts to spark economic stability, and he wanted to strengthen the national military. His conservative ideals ultimately brought the power back to the states. His time in office can be synonymous with the term devolution. As he had said, "Government is not the solution to your problem, government is the problem." Thus, his policies focused on taking away national power.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act

    The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based on disability when applying for a job. The act also applies to labor organizations and areas that are open to the general public. Because the Americans with Disabilities Act upholds the ideals of the 14th Amendment, it is known to increase national power over the states.
  • United States v. Lopez

    United States v. Lopez
    Lopez carried a gun on school grounds and was charged with firearm possession under school property. He was then charged with violating a federal criminal statute, Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. The Supreme Court ruled that his violation of the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 had nothing to do with interstate commerce (what Congress thought). Therefore, this case strengthened the state government power because the national government could not charge him under the Commerce Clause.
  • 104th Congress

    104th Congress
    104th Congress became the first held entirely under Republican control since the Eisenhower era. During Clinton's administration, they tried to devolve Medicaid and they successfully abolished AFDC. They also restricted the power of the federal government to enact unfunded mandates upon the states. This increased the power of the state government since it took away the national government's power in national programs and lessening the amount of mandates the states had to do.
  • Printz v. United States

    Printz v. United States
    The Brandy Bill required law enforcement officers to perform background checks on prospective handgun users. Sheriff Printz and Mack challenged the constitutionality of this provision of the Brady Bill. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Printz and Congress cannot temporarily require state CLEOs to regulate handgun purchases. This limited the power of the national government, because the national government cannot impose on state's regulation of handgun purchases. There is more power to states.
  • September 11, 2001

    The September 11 attacks were four terrorist attacks coordinated by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda. Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center buildings, one hitting the Pentagon, and the other landing in a field in Pennsylvania. This event diverted America's attention toward terrorism, and acts and laws were created because of it (i.e. Department of Homeland Security). This increased national power because the government more closely monitors people coming in and out of the US.
  • No Child Left Behind

    No Child Left Behind grew out of Americans' concern that the education system was no longer internationally competitive. No Child Left Behind puts a special focus on ensuring that states and schools boost their performance of certain groups of students. No Child Left Behind increases national power, even though it is not mandatory. If states do not comply with this, then they risk losing grant money. Therefore, this represents the national government's power over the states.
  • Development of the Department of Homeland Security

    The Department of Homeland Security was created in response to the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. The DHS has the responsibility to protect people from future terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and catastrophic accidents. The development of the Department of Homeland Security increased federal power because it is an agency funded by the government that provides more protection. The program is to look out for the entire country, over every state.
  • Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare)

    The Affordable Care Act is a statute that contains comprehensive health reforms and tax provisions that affect individuals, families, businesses, insurers, and government entities. The Affordable Care Act tries to make affordable health care available to more people. It also has a mandate that you have to have health insurance or you pay a tax penalty. This increases federal power because it allows government to be more involved with people's health care and gives penalties if you don't comply.