The American System of Federalism
Federalism is a constitutional division of authority between a national government and subnational governments, with each retaining siginficant authority.
Here is how power is divided/shared in the American federal system of government:

Powers Granted to
National Goverment
Powers Granted to Both
National and State Governments
Powers Granted to
State Governments
Delegated Powers
Article I, Section 8
  • Collect taxes
  • Regulate interstate and foreign commerce
  • Borrow and coin money
  • Declare war
  • Create and maintain an army and navy
  • Establish post offices and post roads
  • Govern territories and national property
  • Grant patents and copyrights
  • Set standards of weights and measures

Implied Powers
  • "Make all laws necessary and proper to carry out the foregoing powers"
    Key Supreme Court Case: McCulloch v. Maryland
Concurrent Powers
  • Collect taxes
  • Borrow money
  • Charter banks and corporations
  • Make and enforce laws
  • Establish courts
Reserved Powers
  • Conduct elections
  • Establish local goverments
  • Regulate commerce "within" the state
  • Protect public health and safety
  • All other powers not delegated to the national government, nor denied to the states.
    (Tenth Amendment)
Federal Supremacy
Should there be any conflict between a federal law (or Constitution) with any state law (or constitution), the federal laws prevail.
"This constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof;
and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States
shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby,
any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."
The Federal Supremacy clause: Article VI, Section 2

See also: "Horizontal" Federalism  

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