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Federalism is what happens when two governments share power over a geographical area. For example, the United States government and the State governments both have power over each other. The Constitution lays out some of these examples, like Article I, Section 8, which gives Congress power over money, trade and commerce, war, the Army and Navy, and also immigration laws. This is just one example of how Federalism is used in the United States. One of the greatest battles of Federalism was the during the 1960’s civil rights movement over segregation. Some states didn’t want to recognize the segregation laws in place by the government.
When the Supreme Court ruled on Brown Vs. the Board of Education and provided that states were violating the 14th Amendment, school had to adhere to the government, which most did but some schools refused. Most of the states that ignored this ruling were schools in Southern states. All of the states that weren’t compliant with the ruling sighted that they weren’t violating the Amendment because in 1896, the Supreme Court ruled that that segregation was not a violation of the Amendment. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights Act Of 1964, when President Lyndon Johnson authorized the Justice Department to begin to desegregate the schools. It wasn’t until 1999, when the rights of states and the government butted heads again.
In 1999, the Attorney General Of the United States started a battle with the Attorney General of South Carolina. Since there were no laws in the Constitution that said anything about motor vehicles, it was up to the states to make the laws. You know when you go to the DMV; you have to give them information to get your driver’s license. Congress learned that many state were selling the information that was given to DMVs, which lead to Congress coming up with the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994. In South Carolina this was a conflict with their laws, so the Attorney General Condon filed a suit that claimed it violated the 10th and 11th Amendments.
The District Court ruled that South Carolina was right and that the Act didn’t suit the case of federalism. The United States Attorney General Reno appealed the ruling and it went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that States couldn’t sell driver’s license information to third party solicitors without permission. Although this is a good thing, the downside is that that lost money makes taxes go up but that is how federalism works in our State and Federal governments.
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