Federalism



[fed-er-uh-liz-uh m] /ˈfɛd ər əˌlɪz əm/

noun
1.
the federal principle of government.
2.
U.S. History.

/ˈfɛdərəˌlɪzəm/
noun
1.
the principle or a system of federal union
2.
advocacy of federal union
/ˈfɛdərəˌlɪzəm/
noun
1.
(US, history) the principles and policies of the Federalist party
n.

1793, American English, from French fédéralisme, from fédéral (see federal).

A system of government in which power is divided between a national (federal) government and various regional governments. As defined by the United States Constitution, federalism is a fundamental aspect of American government, whereby the states are not merely regional representatives of the federal government, but are granted independent powers and responsibilities. With their own legislative branch, executive branch, and judicial branch, states are empowered to pass, enforce, and interpret laws, provided they do not violate the Constitution. This arrangement not only allows state governments to respond directly to the interests of their local populations, but also serves to check the power of the federal government. Whereas the federal government determines foreign policy, with exclusive power to make treaties, declare war, and control imports and exports, the states have exclusive power to ratify the Constitution. Most governmental responsibilities, however, are shared by state and federal governments: both levels are involved in such public policy issues as taxation, business regulation, environmental protection, and civil rights.

Note: The precise extent of state and federal responsibility has always been controversial. Republican administrations, for example, have tended to grant more authority to the states, thereby encouraging political and economic freedom but discouraging comprehensive social welfare. Until the middle of the twentieth century, the Supreme Court left the interpretation of many civil rights guarantees to the states, resulting in widespread discrimination against minorities.

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  • Federalistic

    [fed-er-uh-list] /ˈfɛd ər ə lɪst/ noun 1. an advocate of . 2. (initial capital letter) U.S. History. a member or supporter of the Federalist party. adjective 3. Also, federalistic. of or the Federalists. /ˈfɛdərəlɪst/ noun 1. a supporter or member of the Federalist party adjective 2. characteristic of the Federalists n. “member or supporter of […]

  • Federalist-party

    noun 1. a political group that favored the adoption by the states of the Constitution. 2. a political party in early U.S. history advocating a strong central government. noun 1. the American political party founded in 1787 and led initially by Alexander Hamilton. It took an active part in the shaping of the US Constitution […]



  • Federalists

    [fed-er-uh-list] /ˈfɛd ər ə lɪst/ noun 1. an advocate of . 2. (initial capital letter) U.S. History. a member or supporter of the Federalist party. adjective 3. Also, federalistic. of or the Federalists. noun 1. a series of 85 essays (1787–88) by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, written in support of the Constitution. […]

  • Federalization

    [fed-er-uh-lahyz] /ˈfɛd ər əˌlaɪz/ verb (used with object), federalized, federalizing. 1. to bring under the control of a government: to federalize the National Guard. 2. to bring together in a union, as different states. /ˈfɛdərəˌlaɪz/ verb (transitive) 1. to unite in a federation or federal union; federate 2. to subject to federal control



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