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Comparing the States

Comparing the States

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Comparing the States

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  1. Comparing the States • http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/policyblog/detail/sat-scores-by-state-2013 • Comparisons can be tricky!

  2. The states were here first. The states existed before the national government did. They are not creations of the national government.

  3. Declaration of Independence • “united States” or “United States”? • We knew we needed a defense alliance to fight the Revolution, but it was unclear at the time whether we would subsequently be one large nation or a collection of smaller, semi-independent “nation-states.” • So we won the Revolution…now what?

  4. Fear of Tyranny • Thomas Jefferson believed that government which is closer to the people is less likely to be tyrannical, and should therefore be given more power. • “Closer to the people” means state, rather than national, government. Jeffersonian philosophy anticipated that the states would be more powerful than the national government. • Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists favored a stronger national government. • The Jeffersonians won, at first. The Articles of Confederation (1781-1787) established a very weak national government.

  5. Articles of Confederation • http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/artconf.asp • National government had no power to raise or pay a military • States were required to maintain an active militia • Unicameral legislature, one vote per state regardless of population • Nine votes out of 13 required to pass most legislation • Some significant legislation had to be unanimous • Delegates to Congress were considered to be officials of their states (who paid them), not officials of the national government

  6. State Powers under the Articles of Confederation • States could conduct their own foreign policies, and make treaties with other nations, with the consent of the national Congress • States could impose their own tariffs on foreign goods as long as the tariff was reciprocal or did not conflict with national treaties with France and Spain. • States could issue their own declarations of war if actually invaded or informed of imminent attack by Indians; this had to eventually be approved by national Congress.

  7. Competing Federal and State powers • Both national and state governments had the power to coin money. This, combined with the states’ ability to conduct their own trade policies, meant we had 13 state economic systems instead of one national economy.

  8. Revising the Articles • The Articles of Confederation were soon found to provide too little power to the national government. The Constitutional Convention which met in Philadelphia in 1787 was originally intended only to revise the Articles and correct some specific problems, but it was quickly decided to create an entire new system of government.

  9. Federalism • Division of power and responsibility between national and state governments. In our system, each has specified powers and responsibilities that they can’t take away from each other. • Unitary system (>90% of world’s governments): National government gives only the power to provinces, lower divisions that it wants to delegate. • Confederation: Smaller units of government give only the power to the national government that they want to delegate.

  10. State Power Under the Constitution • The Constitution made the national government more powerful and the states less powerful than had been the case under the Articles. In order for the states to ratify this arrangement, certain guarantees of state power had to be made. • The Constitution guarantees each state a republican form of government and protection “against Invasion.”

  11. State Powers Given Up to the National Government Under the Constitution • The national government has exclusive responsibility for foreign policy • States no longer conduct their own foreign policy or have tariff power against other countries • The national government has primary responsibility for military defense (state militias still exist in the form of the National Guard, which may be mobilized for national defense)

  12. State Powers Given Up to the National Government Under the Constitution • The national government coins money and regulates international and interstate commerce • States may not impose tariffs on each other’s goods • Supremacy Clause: The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land; in the event of a conflict between the USC and a state policy, the USC prevails.

  13. Compromises Among the States • In order to get enough states to agree to ratify the Constitution, certain compromises had to be made: • Large states and small: Connecticut Compromise based the House of Representatives on equal population and the Senate on equal representation by state • North and South: Importation of slaves banned by 1808 (but not immediately), and Three-Fifths Compromise on population counted for representation

  14. States as Institutions Represented in Fed. Government • The Senate: • Originally, the Senate represented “the states” while the House represented “the people” • Senators are chosen to represent their states as a whole • States have equal representation regardless of population • Senators were originally chosen by state legislatures until the 17th Amendment was ratified in 1913 • The Governor, subject to state law, may make a temporary appointment to fill a vacancy

  15. More on the Senate • The Constitution, and Senate rules, allow a small number of states to block action which doesn’t serve their interests • 22 Senators from 11 Southern states were able to block civil rights legislation until the 1950’s and 1960’s even though the rest of the country supported it

  16. States as Institutions in Fed. Gov’t. • Amendment process: Legislatures or ratifying conventions in three-quarters of the states must approve a Constitutional amendment after passage by Congress or a Constitutional Convention

  17. The Electoral College • The President and Vice President are not chosen in a national election, but in 51 separate elections (each state plus DC) • This requires not a majority of the vote, but a majority of the vote distributed in a certain way: A majority of the vote in each one of a group of states which make up a majority of the Electoral College • Usually but not always (as in 2000) equal to a majority of the population • This protects state interests

  18. The Electoral College • Smaller states have disproportionate influence because of the two extra electoral votes corresponding to the Senators • State legislatures have the power to determine how electors are chosen (“in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct”) • Majority vote winner in every state gets all of the electoral vote • Exceptions: Nebraska and Maine award one electoral vote to the winner in each Congressional District and two to the winner of the state as a whole (Obama got one electoral vote in Nebraska in 2008)

  19. The Electoral College • All 50 states and DC have laws providing that electors are chosen by popular vote, but a legislature could change that if they chose • There is no right under the US Constitution for individuals to vote for President • A legislature may choose the electors themselves (Florida would have in 2000, SC did until being readmitted after the Civil War)

  20. The Bill of Rights • The Anti-Federalist political movement opposed the Constitution as originally drafted because, in their view, it gave too much power to the national government. Several states (including North Carolina and Rhode Island) expressed a reluctance to ratify the Constitution unless further curbs were placed on the national government. So Congress passed the Bill of Rights (first ten Amendments) and sent it to the states for ratification.

  21. The Bill of Rights • Most of the Bill of Rights restricts the national government’s power to curb individual behavior (protection of freedom of speech, religion, etc.), but the protection of the states’ power is specified by the Tenth Amendment: • “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.”

  22. The Bill of Rights • The Constitution gives the national government certain specified powers; • It prohibits the states from having certain specified powers; • Unless the Constitution specifies one or the other, the assumption is that the states and the people may do something, while the federal government may not. • States and people can do anything the Constitution doesn’t say they can’t. • National government can only do what the Constitution says it can.

  23. Competition and Conflict Between the National Government and the States • McCulloch v. Maryland (1815): U.S. Supreme Court ruling that national laws take precedence over state laws. The State of Maryland had no authority to tax the Baltimore branch of the Bank of the United States (a U.S. government agency). • Slavery and segregation: Did the federal government have the power to restrict state government policies in these areas? • Today, states are asserting power in response to what they see as federal inaction to curb illegal immigration.

  24. “States’ Rights” • The phrase “states’ rights” is generally associated in contemporary usage with support for slavery in the 19th Century and for legally mandated racial segregation in the 20th. In both cases, the Southern states saw the national government as abusing its power and violating the states’ authority to govern their own affairs and make their own policies. They saw the federal government’s position (against the expansion of slavery, for integration of public facilities) as fundamentally threatening to their social and economic structures.

  25. States’ Rights • However, there is nothing inherently racist, pro-slavery, pro-segregation or anti-democratic about the philosophy that the states are better equipped than the federal government to make policies and handle problems (this was Jefferson’s belief). • Tension between different levels of government over whose power and responsibility it is to make those decisions is one which always exists within a system of separated, checked and balanced power, as it does between Congress and the President.