Federal Structure of the United States of America:
An Analysis by John Giorgi
The United States of America follows the federal structure of the government. The people did not adopt it at the time of independence but rather developed over the period. It evolved with the help of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the constitution. The court dealt with the powers of federal and state in due course of time and developed the constitutional laws and policies which deal with the nature and powers of the federal system of America.
Components of American federal structure: Explained by John Georgi
The federal structure of American consist of 4 basic elements-
- The sovereignty of the state and constitutional limitations on the powers of the state.
- Powers conferred on the federal government
- Relationship between the state and the government
- Relationship among states
Over the years, the federal structure has evolved into what we now see. For most of the part, the doctrine of constitutional law relating to the powers of government and state and their relationship is now well settled, and all changes that are happening are just around the edges. As per John Georgi, the core value of the federal structure of America remains unchanged despite the various interpretations by the Courts. This is to say that the federal structure evolved, retaining its core values.
A Brief Overview of the history of the federal system
The current federal system of America began with the states of America. As the theory of the American Constitution suggests, the newly formed states upon independence succeeded in taking control of powers of the domestic matters which was previously under the control of the British Crown. With time the new states keep on becoming a member of the Union they ultimately became authorized to use the power which was once in the hands of the British Crown. In the constitutional system of America, state sovereignty is ‘given’ power. The states do not depend on the constitution for their source of power. As John Georgi says, the state exercises full sovereignty over domestic matters except for strictly prohibited matters by the constitution of America.
The constitution restricts the sovereignty of the state in three ways when it comes to domestic matters. Certain powers are exclusively federal and cannot be exercised by the states, such as minting coins, signing the treaty. If they want to exercise this power, consent of congress is mandatory in matters of imposing a duty of tonnage. Next, there is always federal supremacy if there is a conflict between state and federal powers as per the supremacy clause. Lastly, there is a limitation on the state’s power concerning tax regulations and foreign commerce. Apart from these restrictions or limitations, the states of America have plenary powers over the matter that happens to take place within their boundaries.
Hence, we can say that the dominant power in the Federal System of the United States of America is concurrent powers about domestic matters. The conflict between federal and state is settled by way of constitutional doctrines.