PAPER: Federalism
Purpose: You are probably familiar with some of the many issues that pertain to federalism (the constitutional powers of the national government vs. the constitutional powers of the state governments). These issues are typically quite contentious and grab a lot of public attention (such as same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization). Federalism is often the answer as to why laws differ from state to state on various issues. The purpose of this writing assignment is to examine specific issues on the basis of constitutional authority and determine the role of federalism in policy directives or Supreme Court rulings.
Lesson Outcomes
Describe the several different types of federalism, tracing the evolution of federalism over time (CLO 1, 5).
Explain why and how a chosen topic or issue pertains to federalism, using the U.S. Constitution as a reference (CLO 3).
Explain the legal status of the issue or topic, referring to legislation and/or Supreme Court rulings where applicable (CLO 2).
Printable Directions for this Assignment (PDF)
– Alternative Formats
Steps for Completing the Task
Steps for Completing the Task
Step 1: Background Information
Review the textbook chapter on federalism, view the video below, and review the links below.
Textbook: Chapter 3 on Federalism, pages 71 99
Federalism: Crash Course Government and Politics
Harvard Political Review: The Future of Federalism (PDF)
Harvard Political Review: The Future of Federalism (PDF) – Alternative Formats
Governing: The Biggest Issues to Watch in 2020
U.S. Constitution in the textbook
Step 2: Select Your Topic
Pick a current issue pertaining to federalism. Possibilities include: Abortion, school standards, immigration, gambling, healthcare, firearm laws, marijuana, or internet privacy. You are certainly not limited to this list.
Step 3: Analyze and Evaluate
Perform research to find a recent article that explores and analyzes the topic youve chosen from a federalism perspective.
Step 4: Write the paper
Using the background resources provided as well as an article found in performing your own research, write a two-page paper that shows you understand how federalism has evolved over the nations history and an issue or topic from a federalism perspective. Use Microsoft Word to create your document.
Your paper should consist of at least 5 paragraphs (1.5-2 pages in length) following this format:
1. Introduction Paragraph: Summarizes the purpose of the paper, uses an attention-getting device to draw the reader in (PDF).
an attention-getting device to draw the reader in (PDF). – Alternative Formats
2. Paragraphs 2-3: Provide a summative analysis of federalism, tracing its evolution throughout U.S. history to where we are today.
3. Paragraph 4: Provide an analysis of a current topic or issue pertaining to federalism.
A. Describe the issue or topic
b. Describe the relationship to federalism (I.e. what are the states doing vs. What is the federal government doing?)
c. Describe why the issue is controversial regarding governance
4. Conclusion paragraph: Summarize the paper and tie it all together.
5. Citations: At the end of your paper, create a citation for each source you USED in the paper. You may use either APA or MLA style (APA is preferred).
Refresher: How to Write a College-Level Paper
This refresher will give you an overview of how to write a college-level paper and how to format your Word document that is easily adapted to summary writing.
Other refreshers include:
TCC Writing Centers: The TCC Writing Centers are great resources and eager to help.
Purdue OWL Writing Lab or TCC Writing Center: Information on APA and MLA style (APA preferred).
Paper Formatting Information
Write your paper on a Word document.
Type your name and the date at the top of the first page.
Title: Write a title of each of the essays.
Center the title.
Font: Use an easy to read font like Times Roman or Garamond
Font Size: 11 or 12 is the standard font size
Font Style: just use regular text, no bolding or italics
Margins: use 1-inch margins on all sides (older versions of Word have bigger margins so you will need to change them)
Spacing: double-space your text, there is still one “standard” double-space between paragraphs
Criteria for Success
Criteria for Success
To be successful, your paper should:
Be accurate
Include an introduction identifying the purpose and using an attention getting device
Address and explain the topic of federalism from a historical perspective
Thoroughly explain your chosen topic from the perspective of federalism
Be written in your “own voice” with minimal errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling
Use academic English (no slang or texting language).
(Hint: read your responses out loud before submitting.)
Be properly formatted and approximately 1.5 to 2 pages in length
If your paper meets these criteria, then you will earn points for the paper as follows:
Completeness 10 pts
Accuracy 15 pts
Depth & Detail 15 pts
Writing Style 10 pts
Total Points Possible 50 pts

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