[PDF Notes] Get complete information on the changing nature of federalism

Federalism, originating from the Latin word foedus, meaning ‘compact’, has always been an integral part of thoughts on nation-state, democracy, sovereignty, autonomy and constitutionalism. However, there have been varied views on its nature and type:

Johannes Althusius (1563 – August 12, 1638) [ 1 ] was a Calvinist philosopher and theologian. He is most famous for his 1603 work, “Political Methodice Digesta, Atque Exemplis Sacris et Profanis Illustrata” (Latin for “Politics Methodically Digested, Illustrated with Sacred and Profane Examples”); revised editions were published in 1610 and 1614.

The ideas expressed therein have led many to consider him the first true federalist, as the intellectual father of modem federalism and also an advocate of popular sovereignty. He was one of the first who revived republican discourse on origins of political community as civil society.

Johannes Althusius:

American Federalists and the Theory of Dual Federalism the Federalist Party (or Federal Party) was an American political party in the period 1792 to 1816, with remnants lasting into the 1820s. The Federalists controlled the federal government until 1801. The party was formed by Alexander Hamilton, who, during George Washington’s first term, built a network of supporters, largely urban, to support his fiscal policies.

These supporters grew into the Federalist Party, which wanted a fiscally sound and strong nationalistic government and was opposed by the Democratic- Republicans. The United States’ only Federalist president was John Adams; although George Washington was broadly sympathetic to the Federalist program, he remained an independent his entire term. Dual federalism, a legal theory which prevailed in the United States from 1789-1937, is the belief that U.S. consists of two separate and co-sovereign branches of government.

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney

This form of government works on the principle that the national and state governments are split into their own spheres and each is supreme within its respective sphere. Specifically, dual federalism discusses the relationship between the national government and the states’ governments. According to this theory, there are certain limits placed on the federal government. These limits are:

a. National government rules by enumerated powers only

b. National government has a limited set of constitutional purposes

c. Each governmental unit-state and federal–is sovereign within its sphere of operations

d. Relationship between nation and states is best summed up as tension rather than cooperation.

Cooperative federalism was coined in the 1930s and acknowledges a need for cooperation between state and federal governments. It rejects that state and national government must exist in separate spheres and is defined by three elements:

1. National and state agencies typically undertake government functions jointly rather than exclusively.

2. The nation and states routinely share power.

3. Power is not concentrated at any government level or in any agency. The fragmentation of responsibilities gives people and groups access to many venues of influence.

A critical difference between cooperative and dual federalism is that they interpret differently two section of the Constitution defining the relationship between state and national governments. Article 1, Section 8, lists the enumerated powers of congress and ends with the elastic clause.

The elastic clause gives Congress the power “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers” meaning the enumerated powers. The Tenth Amendment reserves for states or the people powers not assigned to the national government or denied to the states by the Constitution.

Dual federalism insists that powers not assigned to the national government are only for states and the people, and claims that the elastic clause is inflexible. Cooperative federalism restricts the Tenth Amendment and posits supplements to the elastic clause Interdependent Federalism

In recent times ‘federal theorists like M.J.C. Vile, Daniel J. Elazar, Ronald L. Watts have developed the no ion of ‘interdependent federalism’ in which two governments would neither’ be fully independent as is the feature of dual federalism, nor would be subordinate to other, as is the case in the cooperative federalism.

Thus, M.J.C Vile in his book “The Structure of American Federalism,” 1961 defines (interactive) federalism as “a system of government in which central and regional authorities are linked in a mutually interdependent political relationship; in this system a balance is maintained such that neither level of government becomes dominant to the extent that it can dictate the decision of the other.

Usually, but not necessarily, this system will be related to a constitutional structure establishing an independent legal existence for both central and regional governments, and providing that neither shall be legally subordinate to the other. The functions of government will be distributed between these levels (exclusively, competitively or cooperatively), initially perhaps by a constitutional document, but thereafter by a political process, involving where appropriate the judiciary; in this process, the political interdependence of the two levels of government is of the first importance in order to prevent one level from absorbing all effective decision-making power”.

What is stressed here is the fact that federalism as an institutional arrangement is founded on the principles of, to use Daniel J. Elazar’s phrase, self rule plus shared rule, “which, involves some kind of contractual linkage of a presumably permanent character that (1) provides for power sharing, (2) cuts around the issue of sovereignty, and (3) supplements but does not seek to replace or diminish prior organic ties where they exist.” (Exploring Federalism, 1987). Self- rule is permitted exclusively in the matters of local importance, and shared rule is exercised through interactive partnership between two levels of government to take decisions on matters of common interests.

This takes out federalism from a mere structural category to a process “by which a number of separate political communities enter into arrangements for working out solutions, adopting joint policies, and making joint decisions on joint problems.” (Carl J. Friedrich, Trends of Federalism in Theory and Practice, (1968). What appears from the above is

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