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5.7: Glossary

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    The Division of Powers

    bill of attainder a legislative action declaring someone guilty without a trial; prohibited under the Constitution

    concurrent powers shared state and federal powers that range from taxing, borrowing, and making and enforcing laws to establishing court systems

    devolution a process in which powers from the central government in a unitary system are delegated to subnational units

    elastic clause the last clause of Article I, Section 8, which enables the national government “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying” out all its constitutional responsibilities

    ex post facto law a law that criminalizes an act retroactively; prohibited under the Constitution

    federalism an institutional arrangement that creates two relatively autonomous levels of government, each possessing the capacity to act directly on the people with authority granted by the national constitution

    full faith and credit clause found in Article IV, Section 1, of the Constitution, this clause requires states to accept court decisions, public acts, and contracts of other states; also referred to as the comity provision

    privileges and immunities clause found in Article IV, Section 2, of the Constitution, this clause prohibits states from discriminating against out-of-staters by denying such guarantees as access to courts, legal protection, and property and travel rights

    unitary system a centralized system of government in which the subnational government is dependent on the central government, where substantial authority is concentrated

    writ of habeas corpus a petition that enables someone in custody to petition a judge to determine whether that person’s detention is legal

    The Evolution of American Federalism

    cooperative federalism a style of federalism in which both levels of government coordinate their actions to solve national problems, leading to the blending of layers as in a marble cake

    dual federalism a style of federalism in which the states and national government exercise exclusive authority in distinctly delineated spheres of jurisdiction, creating a layer-cake view of federalism

    general revenue sharing a type of federal grant that places minimal restrictions on how state and local governments spend the money

    new federalism a style of federalism premised on the idea that the decentralization of policies enhances administrative efficiency, reduces overall public spending, and improves outcomes

    nullification a doctrine promoted by John Calhoun of South Carolina in the 1830s, asserting that if a state deems a federal law unconstitutional, it can nullify it within its borders

    Intergovernmental Relationships

    block grant a type of grant that comes with less stringent federal administrative conditions and provide recipients more latitude over how to spend grant funds

    categorical grant a federal transfer formulated to limit recipients’ discretion in the use of funds and subject them to strict administrative criteria

    creeping categorization a process in which the national government attaches new administrative requirements to block grants or supplants them with new categorical grants

    unfunded mandates federal laws and regulations that impose obligations on state and local governments without fully compensating them for the costs of implementation

    Competitive Federalism Today

    immigration federalism the gradual movement of states into the immigration policy domain traditionally handled by the federal government

    venue shopping a strategy in which interest groups select the level and branch of government they calculate will be most receptive to their policy goals

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Federalism

    race-to-the-bottom a dynamic in which states compete to attract business by lowering taxes and regulations, often to workers’ detriment


    5.7: Glossary is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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