Constitution clip 3
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Constitution clip 3


Hey everybody. Welcome to part 3 of this
week’s material. The last thing I’m gonna talk about is how federalism is embodied
in the Constitution, so remember federalism is a system in which power is
shared between a large central government and smaller units of
government. Number one, federalism is expressed in the
Constitution by expressly giving certain powers to the federal government. These are called “federal powers,” so for
example, a federal power is the power to negotiate treaties. States don’t have
that power. Governors of states don’t have the Constitutional authority
to negotiate treaties with other countries. That’s a federal power — a power that is specifically delegated to the federal government. A second way that federalism is embodied in the Constitution is by expressly giving certain powers to states. These are called state powers. An example of a state power is the power to run federal
elections. That’s a power that’s specifically given to the states. It’s
also one of the reasons that we had, as a country, so many issues during the Jim
Crow era with states creating certain laws to specifically prevent
African-American voters from being able to vote. Laws like IQ tests, like poll taxes, were
instituted by the states specifically to prevent African-Americans from voting,
and the reason that they could do that is because the Constitution specifically
gives that power to run federal elections to the states. The third way that federalism is expressed in the Constitution is by creating a space in which both the federal
government and the states share the same power. We just talked about this a moment
ago. Those are called concurrent powers. The example that we gave is the power
to tax. Both the states and the federal government currently have the power
to tax. A fourth way that federalism is embodied in the Constitution is by giving
the states a role in amending the Constitution itself. So, to amend the
Constitution means to change something about the Constitution, so in order to
amend the Constitution, three-quarters of the states are required to agree that
they want to amend the Constitution. And remember if the idea of federalism is to
share power between the federal level and the states, then it makes sense that
this power to amend the Constitution is shared with the states. A fifth way that
federalism is embodied in the Constitution is by including a clause
(Remember, a clause simply a group of words.) These next three things that we talk
about all deal with clauses, so another way that federalism is embodied in the
Constitution is by including what is called the Supremacy Clause. The Supremacy Clause is an incredibly important part of the Constitution. What it basically says
is that the Constitution, and federal laws that are made, and any
treaties (Those are legal agreements between the United States and another
country). Any treaties that are made are all the supreme law of the land. This is why federal law has more power
and more weight than state laws, so for example, if the federal government makes
a law saying that it’s illegal to own assault rifles or certain types of guns,
then no states can say, “well we will allow assault rifles.” In other words, the federal law always
supersedes or always has more weight, more power than state laws do. I’m
gonna go on a little sidebar here because usually in my in-person class
someone will raise their hand and say, “Excuse me Professor Godfrey, but what about
marijuana laws?” Because for those of you who aren’t aware, there is a federal law
that outlaws the sale of marijuana, yet many states have legalized the use of
medical marijuana, and then there are a couple of states, Washington and Colorado, to be specific that have legalized the recreational use of
marijuana. Now, the reason that this is possible is because the federal
government has said under the Obama administration that it is not going to
enforce federal marijuana laws, so that opened the door for the states to make
their own laws. However, you should understand that the next
president of the United States will have the power, if he or she chooses, to
execute federal marijuana laws, and shut down legalized, recreational marijuana in
Washington, Colorado, and medical marijuana all throughout the United
States. If the next president chooses to do that, they will have the power to do
that because of the Supremacy Clause. Honestly, it’s unlikely that the next
president would do that, but it could happen, and that’s because of the
Supremacy Clause. A next area that federalism is expressed in the
constitution, which we talked about in this last clip is by including what is
called the Reservation Clause. Remember the Reservation Clause is how states
get their powers because in the Tenth Amendment, we said, it states that any
powers that aren’t specifically granted only to the federal government or
prevented by the Constitution are reserved for the states. So by including
the Reservation Clause our Constitution embodies federalism. And then finally, by
including what is called the Full Faith and Credit Clause here is one that we
did not discuss: the Full Faith and Credit Clause is how the relationship between states and other states is regulated by
Constitution. What the Full Faith and Credit Clause says is that states are
supposed to give “full faith and credit” to the judicial decisions in other
states, and to the licenses of their states. This is why you can drive your car (if
you have a car) from California into Nevada without having to get a new
driver’s license because the state of Nevada recognizes the driver’s licenses
of the state of California. It also means that if you are convicted of a crime in
the state of California — say murder — you can’t flee to Nevada and claim asylum,
and say, “I can’t be…shouldn’t be returned to California.” If you’ve been convicted
of a crime in one state, that conviction stands in other states as well, and you
will be arrested and returned to the other state. These are all ways in which
federalism — remember that’s the sharing of power between a large government and
smaller units of government — that’s how federalism is embodied in our
Constitution. And have a lovely rest of your evening or day. Bye!

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