What is Federalism?
AMP | Kids is proud to partner with The Mini Page, celebrating over 50 years of providing engaging and fun learning opportunities to young readers across the country. This feature was originally syndicated in newspapers the week of July 11 – July 17, 2020. It is distributed digitally here with permission from Andrews McMeel Syndication. Enjoy and share with the young learners in your life!

As we have been learning in this series, the men who wrote our Constitution were very concerned about power. They knew that our country’s first laws, the Articles of Confederation, did not give the national government enough power. (The Articles of Confederation were the laws that united the states together after the Revolution.) The articles had given too much power to the states.

Franklin ConstitutionIn many ways, each state acted like a separate country. Strong national laws that were fair to everyone were needed to bind the country together.

The writers of the Constitution set up what is called a federal system of government. It divides powers between the national government and the state governments.

As an American, you are a citizen of both the United States and the state in which you live.

Reserved powers

Under our federal type of government, the states are free to keep certain powers. Some limits were put on the U. S. government in the Bill of Rights of 1791.

The 10th Amendment makes it very clear that the powers not given to the national government are reserved, or saved, for the states.

For example, states have the power to set up a system to educate their people. But states are denied the right to print their own money and to make treaties with other governments.

Both the U.S. and state governments are given the power to:

  • Collect taxes.
  • Borrow money.
  • Take private property for public use after paying a fair price.

Article III

Article III of the Constitution is about the judicial branch (the courts). It has three sections.

Section 1

The judicial power will rest in the Supreme Court and the other courts.

Section 2

This section establishes rules about what kinds of cases the Supreme Court can consider. Some disputes can go directly to the highest court, while others must be heard on appeal, or after they’ve gone through lower courts.

This section also guarantees Americans a trial by jury in criminal court.

Section 3

Section 3 explains what the delegates meant by treason: bringing war against the United States or helping enemies of the country.


On the Web:

The Making of the American Constitution by Judy Walton

At the Library:

What Is the Constitution? by Patricia Brennan Demuth

Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights and the Flaws That Affect Us Today by Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson

For Teachers: 

For standards-based activities to accompany this feature, visit Andrews McMeel Syndication. And follow The Mini Page on Facebook!



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