AP US Government : Relationships with State Institutions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Relationships With State Institutions

What is the difference between block grants and categorical grants?

Possible Answers:

A block grant can only be given to certain states; a categorical grant can be given to all states.

A block grant comes with many specific rules as to how the state may spend the money; a categorical grant comes with few rules.

A categorical grant can only be granted by the president; a block grant can only be granted by the Congress.

A block grant may be spent for narrowly defined purposes; a categorical grant may be spent for broadly defined purposes.

A categorical grant comes with many specific rules as to how the state may spend the money; a block grant comes with few rules.

Correct answer:

A categorical grant comes with many specific rules as to how the state may spend the money; a block grant comes with few rules.

Explanation:

When the national government provides a state with a categorical grant, it attaches many rules as to how the money can be spent: it comes with "strings attached." Block grants, however, can be provided with very few rules; the state decides how it will use the money. None of the other answers are true.

Example Question #2 : Relationships With State Institutions

As Commander-in-Chief, the President is able to do all of the following EXCEPT

Possible Answers:

deploy troops in an ongoing conflict.

launch small scale conflicts.

declare war on a foreign nation.

move troops around the globe.

promote and demote military commanders.

Correct answer:

declare war on a foreign nation.

Explanation:

According to Article Two, Section Two, Clause One of the Constitution, the President is "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States." However, Article One, Section Eight, Clause Eleven, specifically empowers Congress to declare war. While this has always been legally upheld, the line between "war" and a "conflict" has often been blurred, with Presidents of both parties launching military operations with no or little congressional approval.

Example Question #3 : Relationships With State Institutions

Under its authority to regulate interstate commerce, Congress has threatened to withhold which funds until states passed which laws?

Possible Answers:

Congress threatened to withhold education funds until each state complied with federal driver licensing regulations.

Congress threatened to withhold farming subsidies until each state complied with federal food safety regulations.

Congress threatened to withhold export permits until each state complied with federal pollution regulations.

Congress threatened to withhold federal highway funds until each state complied with federal drinking age regulations. 

Congress threatened to withhold air travel subsidies until each state complied with federal education curriculum regulations.

Correct answer:

Congress threatened to withhold federal highway funds until each state complied with federal drinking age regulations. 

Explanation:

Congress has threatened to withhold various types of funds in order to gain leverage in legal areas granted to states under the Tenth Amendment. One famous case was held up by the Supreme Court: the Reagan administration threatened to withhold ten percent of highway funds until states changed their legal drinking age to 21. This is part of a long history of power struggles between states and the federal government. Students should be familiar with the most notable cases of these power struggles throughout American history, and in that way be familiar with Federalism (including Dual Federalism and Cooperative Federalism).

Example Question #337 : National Government Institutions

Which article of the Constitution concerns the relationship between the various states?

Possible Answers:

Article VII

Article IV

Article III

Article VI

Article II

Correct answer:

Article IV

Explanation:

Article IV (4) of the United States Constitution is concerned with addressing the relationship between the states, as well as between the states and the Federal government.

Example Question #338 : National Government Institutions

Which of the following does not fall under the purview of the federal government?

Possible Answers:

Interstate commerce

Intrastate commerce

Defense

Bankruptcy laws

Foreign interactions

Correct answer:

Intrastate commerce

Explanation:

This is should be a fairly simply question, as long as you remember the difference between inter and intra: inter means “between” and intra means “within.” Thus, interstate commerce refers to business in between the states, while intrastate commerce refers to business solely within the state. The former falls under the powers of the federal government and the latter belongs to the states (this has been . . . tweaked . . . slightly by the Supreme Court and the “dormant commerce clause” but that is far beyond the scope of your course).

All of the other powers belong to the federal government, for somewhat obvious reasons: you don’t want individual states attempting to represent the US as a whole to foreign countries—that would be horribly disjointed; in order to have uniform bankruptcy laws, those laws cannot be formed in each individual state (again, oversimplified); to maintain a nation-wide defense, there has to be nationwide oversight.

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