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In this week’s Discussion, you explained how the concepts of representative democracy, constitutional democracy, and republic forms of government impact democratic governance. Now you will consider the specifics of federalism and separation of powers in the United States. Federalism and separation of powers are hallmarks of American government. Contentious issues in the public agenda often are the result of a simple disagreement over state powers versus federal powers in governmental matters. The manner in which the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government carry out their respective duties also is a point of conflict. When analyzing the influence of federalism and separation of powers on democratic governance, it is prudent to note the principles of each concept.
To prepare for this Assignment:
- Review the article “The State of American Federalism, 2004: Is Federalism Still a Core Value?” in this week’s Learning Resources. Think about whether federalism remains significant in current governance.
- Review the “Constitution of the United States” in this week’s Learning Resources. Look for specific instances in the Constitution that explicitly describes the separation of powers and the concept of federalism. Think about the term separation of powers and reflect on how those powers are executed by the government. Are the powers actually “separated” or are the powers actually “shared” by different branches but executed “separately”? For example, in the Constitution, Congress is charged with enacting laws, the Executive Branch is charged with executing the laws, and the Judicial branch is charged with deciding the application of those laws in specific cases. In addition, Federalist 78 and the Supreme Court ruling in Marbury v. Madison (1803) also charge the Judicial branch with determining the constitutionality of laws enacted by Congress. As a result, each branch has the power to determine either what the law says or how it is executed or applied. Thus, the power of “the law” is shared by each branch, yet each branch executes that power separately.
- Reflect on the concepts of federalism and separation of powers and think about how each concept influences current governance.
The Assignment (2–3 pages):
- Briefly describe the concepts of federalism and separation of powers. Cite specific references in the Constitution to illustrate your concepts.
- Evaluate the concept of separation of powers and explain whether you agree that the powers are separate or that they are shared but executed separately.
- Explain the influence of federalism and the separation of powers on current governance. Select specific examples of current governance to illustrate the influence of each concept.
- Share at least one insight that you gained as a result of your analysis. Or, if you live outside the United States, explain how you think federalism and separation of powers might affect governance in your country.
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