Federalism in General

Click on the underlined copy for access to those materials.


The second option in Article V is one of the tools the Founding Fathers included in the 1787 Constitution to enable states to protect their interests.  Numerous other provisions in the US Constitution also set forth the Founders’ intent to establish a system of government that involves dual Sovereignty… a sovereign federal government that continues to honor the sovereignty of the individual states.

In addition to the Federalist Papers which dealt with the importance of Article V, the following research sources provide guidance on the concept of American Federalism:


2019 Survey of Opinions on Knowledge about U.S. Government was conducted through a pair of national surveys commissioned by the Tenth Amendment Group (TAG 10).  The surveys included both a representative sampling of state legislators and a national survey of the general public.  The knowledge and opinions of state legislatures and the general public on these topics is reflective of understanding of America’s federalist system of government.  Click the link above to learn more about this important survey and the results it revealed.

The Federalist Society – A web site dedicated to related law and public policy studies.

TheFederalist.com is a searchable web site dedicated to news about federalism issues.

Utah Valley University Offers Federalism CourseThe Utah State Legislature commissioned the Utah Valley University (UVU) to create a Federalism Curriculum as a way to educate legislators and attorneys about the American form of federalism.

The UVU course consists of six 10-minute video modules (followed by a quiz) taught by top federalism scholars.  The free course is available to all legislators, attorneys and the general public by clicking on the “Federalism Curriculum” tab.

Public Attitudes toward Federalism: The Public’s Preference for Renewed Federalism – September 2014 – by John Samples and Emily Ekins, published by the CATO Institute as Policy Analysis No. 759. For much of its history, the United States had a notably decentralized government structure. Since the 1930s, the national government has undertaken new efforts to regulate the economy and society and to redistribute resources.  This report says that voters now are more supportive of decentralized policymaking on many issues where they previously supported a stronger national role.

Thirteen Proposals to Return Sovereignty to the States – January 2014 – by the Federalism Committee of the American Legislative Exchange Council.

A Convention of the States Is Necessary to Fix America’s Most Difficult Problems – November, 2017 – by Chris Talgo of the Heartland Institute.  He says “It is far-fetched to believe at this point Congress would ever propose an amendment to address the nation’s most vexing problems.  Amendments that would require a balanced budget or institute term limits seem unlikely to originate from those who believe they would personally be harmed by such proposals.  Hence, there is a great need for a convention of the states to propose such amendments.”

Restoring Federalism: Giving Power Back to the States was a half-day symposium sponsored by the Heritage Foundation on July 17, 2019. The event featured White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and eight panelists.  It can be viewed by clicking the link above.

At the event Russ Vought, Acting Director of the Office of Management & Budget said: [T] the federal government is doing things outside what the Constitution would have us be doing. That means that states, in some respects, don’t have the need to figure out whether they should be doing something more effectively, with their knowledge of their voters, their constituents.  Sometimes, that can lead to poor incentives, where Washington uses the hook of federal spending to change behaviors that the people of that state or locality would otherwise not be supportive of.  …  We have a spending problem in Washington, D.C., but it’s a federalism problem”.

How Our Constitution Was Supposed to Work: New Evidence Comes to Light is an article published on August 8, 2019 in The Epoch Times, written by constitutional scholar Rob Natelson.  It focuses on newly published documents from America’s founding which offer more insight into how federalism was supposed to work.

Natelson notes “When the proposed Constitution became public on Sept. 17, 1787, Americans could see that the list of powers the Constitution granted the federal government was a generous one.  It encompassed nearly the entire scope of national defense and foreign affairs.  It embraced certain key economic functions, such as patents, copyrights, and trade flowing across political borders.  It included authority in certain cases to prevent states from abusing their own citizens.  The list also included authority to hold the union together.

“But the framers recognized that most problems weren’t problems the federal government could, or should, solve. That is why they left most areas of life to the exclusive responsibility of state and local governments and the private sector.”  That’s where America’s new form of federalism came in.

Where’s the Line? How States Protect the Constitution is an excellent book written by former Utah State Rep. Ken Ivory on the importance of federalism.  The 97-page book can be downloaded FREE.  Ivory has also written numerous articles for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), including Federalism Is a Tug of War and States Need to Pull.