The foundation of American federalism is a division of authority between the federal and state governments. While the states have police authority, the federal government has enumerated, implied, and reserved powers. African Americans faced discrimination and segregation, which was the goal of the Civil Rights Movement. A case that supported the idea of “separate but equal” was Plessy v. Ferguson. Segregation in public schools was declared unconstitutional in the Brown v. Board of Education case, which overturned the precedent set by Plessy v. Ferguson. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were passed to protect African Americans’ civil rights. Minorities are favored in education and employment under the practice of affirmative action.
Concept: Enumerated, Implied, and Reserved Powers
The founders of the United States intended for the federal government to have enumerated, implied, and reserved powers, while the state governments would have police powers. This form of government makes a power balance between the federal and state governments. It ensures that the people’s rights are upheld and that the government is answerable to them. The enumerated powers are listed in the Constitution, such as the power to levy taxes and declare war (“Ch. 1 Introduction – American Government 3E”). The implied powers are necessary to carry out the enumerated powers, such as the power to regulate interstate commerce. The reserved powers, such as the power to regulate marriage and divorce, are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.
The United States Constitution’s Article I, Section 8 lists the federal government’s authority. The enumerated powers are those things. The Constitution does not specifically list implied powers, but the founders intended for the federal government to have them because they must carry out the enumerated powers. Finally, the Constitution grants the states some powers. They are referred to as police powers. Enumerated, implied, and state police powers are the three categories of federal powers, and they combine to form a system of efficient government that performs its duties (Mikhail 507). The federal government’s specific authorized actions are listed in the enumerated powers, while the implied powers grant its ability to carry out the enumerated powers. The ability for the states to manage their affairs is provided by the state police powers, which helps prevent an overly powerful federal government. This system works well because it gives the federal government and the states the freedom to conduct their internal affairs while still allowing the federal government to carry out its enumerated powers. With this form of government, there can be a balance of power between the federal and state governments.
The ability of the federal government to levy taxes, borrow money, control commerce, declare war, and build up and support armies and navies is among its enumerated powers. The ability to control interstate trade, create money, and establish post offices implied federal government powers (Jacobs 378). The ability to control welfare, safety, and health is one of the state’s police powers. The country’s founders wanted state governments to have more authority and the federal government to have less. Federalism is the term for this. A power balance between the federal government and the state governments is made possible by federalism. It ensures that the people’s rights are upheld and that the government is answerable to them.
The nation’s founders thought federalism would lead to a more effective and efficient government. They believed that while state governments should handle local issues, those at the federal level would be better able to handle those at the local level. Federalism enables a division of authority between the federal and state governments, enabling more effective and efficient governance (Jacobs 378). All other powers are reserved to the states under the Constitution, which establishes the Federal government and grants it some enumerated powers. The federal government has the authority to enact the necessary and appropriate laws to exercise its express, implied, and reserved powers. Additionally, the Constitution grants the federal government the authority to tax and regulate interstate commerce. The states have the authority to enact laws and control intrastate trade.
Concept: Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954)
The Plessy v. Ferguson case was a case that upheld the principle of “separate but equal.” The Supreme Court decided the case in 1896 (Ferguson 317). The case involved a Louisiana law that required segregated railway cars. The Supreme Court held that the law was constitutional and that segregation was not a form of discrimination. The Brown v. Board of Education case was a case that overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson case and held that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court decided the case in 1954.
Whether or not state-level segregation laws were legal was the main contention in Plessy and Brown. The Supreme Court acknowledged that these laws were constitutional in Plessy, allowing state governments to continue enforcing segregation. African Americans would continue to be treated as second-class citizens in many areas of the country, significantly impacting the Civil Rights Movement (Bartz et al. 5). Plessy was overturned by the Brown decision, which also declared state-level segregation laws unconstitutional. This was a significant victory for the Civil Rights Movement because it allowed for integration and equality.
The issue of segregation in public spaces was at the heart of both the Plessy and Brown cases. The “separate but equal” doctrine, established as a result of the Plessy case, permitted the use of segregated public facilities as long as they were of comparable quality. According to the Brown case, racial segregation in public spaces violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which overturned the Plessy ruling. The Brown ruling significantly influenced the Civil Rights Movement by establishing the legality of using civil disobedience to oppose segregation laws. The Civil Rights Movement benefited greatly from the federalist structure of the American government. Although the state governments have much autonomy in some areas, the federal government generally has more power than the state governments. Due to this division of authority, it was challenging to implement the Brown decision when the federal government could not always intervene directly in segregation cases. Therefore, the Civil Rights Movement had to rely on strategies like civil disobedience to persuade the federal government to act.
Concept: Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Right Act of 1965
In the United States, discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex, or national origin was outlawed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a significant piece of legislation. Additionally, it ended the discriminatory application of voter registration laws and racial segregation in workplaces, public places of employment, and schools. Following the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured everyone had the right to vote, regardless of race, colour, or previous servitude (Hayter 130). The Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which grants Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce, served as the foundation for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law outlawed discrimination in hiring practices, the electoral process, and public spaces. The 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, which ensure equal protection under the law and the right to vote, served as the foundation for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The act prohibited voting discrimination and mandated states with a history of discrimination obtain prior federal approval before making any chan.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which ended slavery, served as the foundation for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. All individuals born or naturalized in the United States are granted citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1868. This amendment ensures that all citizens receive “equal protection of the laws.” The right to vote for African American men was established by the Fifteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1870. In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. This decision sparked numerous demonstrations and civil disobedience campaigns across the nation, culminating in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
According to the decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, racial segregation in public places was legal as long as there were equal facilities for each race. This decision significantly impacted the Civil Rights Movement because it allowed for the legal segregation of African Americans from whites in many spheres of life. This made it more challenging for African Americans to achieve equality and contributed to the Civil Rights Act’s passage in 1964.
Both of these actions were crucial in addressing the problem of African Americans’ civil rights. African Americans experienced discrimination before these laws, including in the workplace, public accommodations, and voting. African Americans were given equal legal rights and protections under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which assured their voting laws.
American Federalism also impacted the civil rights movement regarding how these laws were enforced. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are primarily enforced by the federal government (Hayter 133). The Federal government also primarily enforced the Fair Housing Act of 1968. State and local governments, however, also play a part in upholding these laws. Additionally, the federal government has promoted civil rights by using its spending power. For instance, the federal government has given money to localities and states to support their efforts to implement the Civil Rights Act of 1964. To aid them in promoting racial and ethnic diversity, educational institutions have received funding from the federal government.
A division of power between the federal government and the state governments is fundamental to American federalism. While the state governments have some powers not listed in the Constitution, the federal government has some powerful powers (Hayter 138). This power disparity impacts the Civil Rights Movement in some ways. First, regardless of what the state governments may or may not do, the federal government has the authority to enact laws that safeguard the civil rights of all Americans. Because of this, the federal government passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Due to their contribution to ensuring that all Americans have the same rights, regardless of their skin colour or place of residence, these laws significantly impacted the Civil Rights Movement.
Second, if the state governments do not support civil rights, the balance of power between the federal and state governments may negatively affect the Civil Rights Movement. The federal government, for instance, would be powerless to intervene if a state passed a law that made it more difficult for African Americans to vote, barring a legal challenge that led to the ruling that the law was unconstitutional. The federal government must enact laws that safeguard the civil rights of all Americans to prevent state governments from limiting those rights.
Concept: Affinitive Actions
The practice of favouring minorities in employment and education is known as affirmative action. When making decisions about employment, education, and other opportunities, affirmative action is a policy that seeks to advance equality by taking race, ethnicity, and gender into consideration (Burns et al. 343). The objectives of affirmative action are equalizing the playing field and giving marginalized groups opportunities. Although affirmative action has successfully boosted diversity in different contexts, it has also come under fire for unfairly discriminating against those who do not belong to protected groups. Affirmative action seeks to eliminate historical discrimination while promoting diversity. Although affirmative action has successfully increased the proportion of minorities enrolled in colleges and universities, it has had less success in doing the same for minorities working in businesses.
Affirmative action policies aim to address the historical effects of discrimination and increase racial and ethnic diversity in workplaces and educational institutions. Although affirmative action has successfully boosted racial and ethnic diversity in workplaces and educational settings, it has not addressed the legacy of discrimination (Burns et al. 346). The American Federalism system had various effects on the Civil Rights Movement. Congress responded to the civil rights movement by passing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These laws forbade discrimination based on racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, or national origin grounds. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to enforce the law.
Although affirmative action policies have successfully fostered greater racial and ethnic diversity in workplaces and educational settings, they have been ineffective in addressing the legacy of discrimination. Increasing the representation of minority groups in workplaces and educational settings is one of the objectives of affirmative action. This objective has been accomplished. For instance, since the adoption of Affirmative Action policies, the proportion of African Americans in colleges and universities has increased. Increasing the proportion of people from minority groups in leadership positions in workplaces and educational institutions is another objective of affirmative action. This objective has also been accomplished. For instance, since the adoption of Affirmative Action policies, the proportion of African Americans in management positions has increased.
Regardless of where a person lives, the federal government has the authority to enact laws that safeguard their civil rights. We refer to this as “affirmative action.” The federal government may also sue states and municipalities that discriminate against minorities. The federal government’s ability to use its authority to ensure that all Americans, regardless of race, would be treated equally contributed to the Civil Rights Movement’s success.
The division of power between the federal and state governments is the foundation of American federalism. State governments have police powers, whereas the federal government has enumerated, implied, and reserved powers. African Americans were the targets of discrimination and segregation during the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights Movement has been impacted by American federalism in both positive and negative ways. On the one hand, all Americans’ civil rights are protected by laws that the federal government can pass.
On the other hand, if the state governments do not support civil rights, the balance of power between the federal and state governments may occasionally work against the Civil Rights Movement. The “separate but equal” tenet was upheld in the Plessy v. Ferguson case. In the Plessy v. Ferguson case, overturned in the Brown v. Board of Education case, segregation in public schools was ruled unconstitutional. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed to protect African Americans’ civil rights. Affirmative action is a policy that favours minorities in education and employment.
“Ch. 1 Introduction – American Government 3E.” OpenStax, https://openstax.org/books/american-government-3e/pages/1-introduction.
Bartz, David E., and W. A. Kritsonis. “Racism, the white power structure, and the tragic history of the education of African American children in the United States.” Schooling 10.1 (2019): 1-9.
Burns, Ashley Brown, and William Darity. “A BLURRED CASE: The Diversity Defense for Affirmative Action in the US.” Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race 16.2 2019: 341-356.
Ferguson, Plessy V. “Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).” (2019).
Hayter, Julian Maxwell. “To end divisions: reflections on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” Reconstruction and the Arc of Racial (in) Justice. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018. 130-142.
Jacobs, Sharon B. “The statutory separation of powers.” Yale LJ 129 (2019): 378.
Mikhail, John. “Fixing Implied Constitutional Powers in the Founding Era.” (2019): 507.