GED Social Studies : Federalism and State Governments

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Social Studies

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Federalism And State Governments

Although the Civil War was fought over a series of issues, it can reasonably be understood as a conflict over the interpretation of __________.

Possible Answers:

the Monroe Doctrine

the power of the Supreme Court

Manifest Destiny

American Federalism

America’s relationship with the European powers

Correct answer:

American Federalism

Explanation:

The main reason the South seceded from the Union is that it felt that the states should have greater control over the direction of their laws and should be less subservient to the federal government. The majority of Southerners in this time period identified more with their state than with the nation. So, the Civil War can be seen as a conflict over the interpretation of American Federalism. The South felt that the system of Federalism should divide powers more equally between the state and national governments, and the Union felt otherwise. This disagreement was effectively resolved (legally speaking) with the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, which outlined the requirements for states to abide by national laws.

Example Question #2 : Federalism And State Governments

Marble-cake Federalism (also called "Cooperative Federalism") really emerged into prominence during __________.

Possible Answers:

the Vietnam War

the Presidency of Bill Clinton

the Great Depression

the Cuban Missile Crisis

the Civil War

Correct answer:

the Great Depression

Explanation:

For the first one hundred and fifty years of American political history, the country essentially operated under Dual Federalism, also called "Layer-cake Federalism." This involves a clear delineation of powers reserved for national governments, state governments, and local governments. During the Great Depression, the power of the Federal government grew dramatically, and the United States' federalism system began to appear more like Cooperative Federalism, also called "Marble-cake Federalism." In Marble-cake Federalism, national, state, and local governments work together cooperatively to tackle problems and pass laws.

Example Question #3 : Federalism And State Governments

Nullification can be understood as a rejection of __________.

Possible Answers:

the separation of church and state

the Supremacy Clause

the Tenth Amendment

the First Amendment

the Elastic Clause

Correct answer:

the Supremacy Clause

Explanation:

Nullification declares that the states have the right to declare any federal law unconstitutional or illegal and choose to ignore it within the state itself. This position was championed particularly by Thomas Jefferson as is the central point of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions. Because nullification involves the repudiation of the ultimate authority of the national government, it can be understood as a rejection of the Supremacy Clause, which states that the Constitution and the national government make up “the supreme law of the land.”

Example Question #4 : Federalism And State Governments

The transfer of powers from the national government to the state and local governments is known as __________.

Possible Answers:

administration

accountability

Dual Federalism

devolution

the Square Deal

Correct answer:

devolution

Explanation:

During the Republican administrations of Nixon and Reagan, many of the powers of the Federal government were transferred to the state and local governments. This policy was branded as New Federalism, but the actual process of the transference of powers is called devolution.

Example Question #5 : Federalism And State Governments

The governor of a state is a member of __________.

Possible Answers:

the national executive branch

the national legislative branch

the state legislative branch

the state executive branch

the state judicial branch

Correct answer:

the state executive branch

Explanation:

In the United States, state governments are set up with the same separation of powers—executive, legislative, and judicial branches—as the national government. The governor of a state is a member of the state executive branch.

Example Question #6 : Federalism And State Governments

The Supremacy Clause in the Constitution is important because it __________.

Possible Answers:

allows Americans to elect representatives in government without fearing the corrupting influence of political parties and special interests

establishes federal law as the ultimate law of the nation and prevents a confusing disarray of local laws

allows the President to override incompetent or immoral acts passed in Congress, thus providing safety for minorities from the tyranny of the majority

highlights the permanence of the Bill of Rights

declares that freedom of religion was absolute and permanent in the United States

Correct answer:

establishes federal law as the ultimate law of the nation and prevents a confusing disarray of local laws

Explanation:

The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution states that federal, or national, law is the supreme law of the land. This is a key component of American Federalism as opposed to the Confederation that existed under the Articles of Confederation. The Founding Fathers observed that under the Articles, the federal government had too little power and the states were free to make their own disparate laws absolute within their territories. Federalism and the Supremacy Clause remedies this situation by ensuring that all state laws must be within the realm of federal laws.

Example Question #7 : Federalism And State Governments

Which of these statements about state constitutions is most accurate?

Possible Answers:

Some of the states have their own constitution, but as it is not required, many simply follow the national constitution.

All of the states have their own constitution that supersedes the national constitution.

None of the other statements is true.

All of the states have their own constitution that remains subject to the laws established in the national constitution.

The states are prohibited from establishing their own constitutions and must adhere to the national constitution.

Correct answer:

All of the states have their own constitution that remains subject to the laws established in the national constitution.

Explanation:

All fifty of the American states have their own constitutions; however, they are all also required to follow the national constitution first, which remains the “supreme law of the land” as established in the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Example Question #8 : Federalism And State Governments

A system of government that divides power and legitimacy between more than one political body is called __________.

Possible Answers:

Republicanism

Federalism

Orthodoxy

Socialism

Heresy

Correct answer:

Federalism

Explanation:

One of the core principles of the American political system is Federalism. In Federalism, power and legitimacy is shared by more than one political entity. In the United States, there is the national government, which retains the majority of control over the political arena, but there are also state and local governments, which have their own areas of power and an established legitimacy.

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