Simple Civics 101- a weekly review of basic American civics
Today we are discussing Federal and State powers. It has become evident in the past several weeks that many Americans don’t understand the difference between the federal government’s responsibilities and their state government. (Think “pandemic response” or “Seattle’s former CHOP zone as examples). Studying civics basics isn’t as easy as reading a post that generates an emotional response. Someone said that Americans let the left side of their brains “leave the building.” Join me in giving the right side of our brains a rest by reviewing factual information. It’s news that affects you and news you can use. Here we go. . .
The U.S. Constitution grants express powers to the Federal government like:
Regulating commerce between the states and other countries
Coining money and regulating the currency
Raising up and maintaining a navy and an army
The Constitution denies some powers to the Federal government:
The writ of Habeas Corpus can’t be suspended unless for reasons of national safety or invasion. Habeas Corpus gives a prisoner the right to speak up if their constitutional rights to a fair trial have been infringed.
Congress cannot pass a bill of attainder (cannot declare a person or a group of persons guilty without a trial).
Congress cannot pass an ex post facto law (cannot declare someone guilty today if the act in question was legal at the time it was performed).
The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It takes precedence over state laws.
What powers do state governments have? Here are a few examples:
Ratify constitutional amendments
Manage public health and safety (like during the COVID-19 pandemic)
Oversee the rules of trade within the state
What does the U.S. Constitution say about the 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.” -Tenth Amendment
In other words, the federal government ONLY has those powers granted to it by the U.S. Constitution. Otherwise, power is reserved to states or to We the People.
Some federal and state powers overlap, like:
Making and enforcing laws
Next on Simple Civics 101, we’ll review basics about the legislative branch of the federal government.
Understanding the roles of the federal and state government is an eye-opener.
It’s also Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.??
*Next on Simple Civics 101, we’ll review basics about the federal government’s legislative branch. .