During the 20th century, the way that the Supreme Court has altered the original vision of federalism given in the Constitution has not always been so active. Starting in 1937 the Supreme Court gave Congress a relatively free hand. After certain restrictions, the argument “it is unconstitutional” is no longer available to use for Congress as it works for the interest of the whole nation. It is unlikely that the Super Court reverse permissive view in the future (O’toole 2013).
In 1995, during United States v. Lopez (514 U.S. 549 ), the Supreme Court made a notorious decision that broke the decades-long trend of affirming the expansion of congressional power and instead limited Congress’s powers interpreting the Constitution’s commerce clause in which it struck down the Gun-Free School zones act. Such an act made a federal crime to anyone that possesses a firearm in the school ground. On one hand, this measure provided a safer procedure to keep guns out of schools, but it provides a contradiction on the second amendment which gives the people the right to keep and bear arms (U.S. Constitution, amend. 2). The Supreme Court is the branch of government in charge of providing a proper division of power. In Lopez, the Supreme Court decided to take a different path in the division of power. Instead of providing guidance to what to do with gun control. It just expanded federal crime (Beer 1973).
One the other hand, in 2005 the Court affirmed in Gonzalez v. Raich (545 U.S. 1) that Congress’s regulatory power extends to local activities such as California’s legislation to authorize medicinal marijuana-that are considered to be “part of an economic class of activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.” (545 U.S. 1, 17) Whether Raich is a signal that the Court may once again be closing the federalism question. If the meaning of federalism is to keep a decentralized government yet keeping control from national government and provide state and local government their independence to create law. Legalizing marijuana also is not always a matter of state government issue, but it can also mean a threat to national security (Boyd 1987).
In 1976, in the National League of Cities v. Usery. the Court ruled that Congress did not have the authority to require that either the states of their local governments observe minimum-wage and maximum-hour laws. It was a 5-4 decision declaring unconstitutional a 1974 federal law extending wage-and-hour requirements to state and city employees. The Court said the legislation violated the “attributes of sovereignty attaching to every state government which may not be impaired by Congress.” The Court concluded:
“Congress has sought to wield its power in a fashion that would impair the States’ ability to function effectively in a federal system … we hold that insofar as the challenged amendments operate to directly displace the States’ freedom to structure integral operations in areas of traditional governmental functions, they are not within the authority granted Congress [by the commerce clause].”
Regardless of any political affiliation or ideology. The same idea that founding fathers had over 200 years ago about federalism is the one that has kept the United States of America the country that it has been. The basis of such federalism is to give the federal or national government the power to oversee and certain powers of national security, commerce, and trade. And give the states and local governments the independence to manage their territories as they consider correct within the Constitution (Brisbin 1998). Unlike the era from which Chief Justice John Marshall was serving between 1801 and 1835 that the Supreme Court changed its ideology and started providing a more national view and created more independent powers. After the year 1930, the Constitution expanded. Giving more power to states and local governments and suppressing the federal government’s power. Although some of these measures were created to provide a stronger federalism system rather than keeping the federal government away from local business (Conlan and De Chantal 2001).
One rule that is provided in the Bible regarding the government system is showing when “When they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor and make known the statutes of God and His laws.” Exodus 18:16 (NASB95) giving the relationship between the federal government to Moses in the book of Exodus permitting that states and local governments, such as those in charge of tens, hundreds, and thousands, and leaving the more important decisions to Moses, to the federal government. And the same way that Moses was guided by God, all government officials should be guided by God as well.
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