What is Dual Federalism? (Examples included)

Dual Federalism examples

In the US today, there is a system of government called Dual federalism. However, many individuals tend to misunderstand this concept because of its complexity, which begins with the meaning of dual federalism.

To understand the full concept of dual federalism, we need to understand what the term “federalism” means. Federalism is simply a system of government where we have one central government and various sub-government.

In this system, the central government is the federal government. The various sub governments are state governments and local governments.

In federalism, power distributes among these various levels of government, with each level having its functions.

However, in recent years despite the basic principles of federalism being the separation of power, there exist different ways the government can distribute power under the auspices of federalism.

One of such methods of distribution is what the US practice, Dual Federalism.

Dual Federalism

Just as stated earlier, we understand that dual federalism is just a different way of practicing federalism. It is safe to say that it is just a type of federalism based on the separation of power.

In many places where federalism is in practice, the federal and state government are in play. However, the majority of these places usually require that the state government do not have complete control.

While the state government usually controls most of the aspects of individual citizens, the federal government controls the issues that bother internal improvements, international relations, and commercial activities among states.

The control implies that the power tends heavily on the federal government and reduces state government authority. This is primarily evident when you consider some fundamental rights of the two levels of government.

For instance, the federal government has immunity while the state government does not.

The principle of dual federalism focuses on the argument that state government and the federal government should have equal rights and power.

There is a belief that they can both exist independently and have powers that the other cannot interfere with.

This belief implies the central government cannot interfere with that of the state government and vice versa. This type of federalism is the Layer Cake Federalism.

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Examples Of Dual Federalism

Observations from the US Constitution Article 1 Section 10 and Article 10 of the Constitution, exist a clause. This clause is the “Reserved power clause.”

This part of the constitution fully provides the distinction between the powers of state and federal government. It further states that any powers not given to the federal government should fall to the state government.

These powers on individual states are generally referred to as “enumerated powers.

The mainstay for dual federalism is the inability of the federal government to involve in state government policies.

Some examples of Dual Federalism includes:

  • A driver’s license is usually given or issued by the state government. They are bestowed with powers to determine the criteria for giving out their driver’s license within their boundaries.
  • Another prime example of this is that state laws are usually enforced and interpreted by state authorities. A state judge presides over state cases and federal cases are usually handled by the federal government and enforced by their authorities. However, the Supreme Court handles federal cases.
  • Furthermore, another place where dual federalism is at play is in lawmaking. While state senators are in charge of making state laws, congress has the right to make Federal and state laws. This necessarily has to involve the state senators in cases that affect the state.

Merits Of Dual Federalism

  • Dual federalism curtails the amount of power available to the federal government. It has helped in ensuring there is no conflict concerning each level of governing power.
  • It gives room for better decisions at state levels. This is the case as certain decisions will be made with the knowledge of the varying needs of various places.

Demerits Of Dual Federalism

  • There is always a constant tension between federal and state governments.
  • There is little or no room for cooperation between the various levels of government.
  • More friction between States and less unity among them.

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Dual Federalism has its pros and cons that are quite important to understand if you intend to appreciate the beauty of this system.

The principle of dual Federalism curbs many excesses that would have existed if there was a power shift towards the federal government. However, it also creates room for division.

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