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POLS650 - Federalism: The American Governance Process

Course Details

Course Code: POLS650 Course ID: 3569 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

This course focuses on the political, legal, financial, and administrative relationships among national, state, and local governmental units. Topics include the nature of federal and other political systems and the issues presented in each system at all levels; the evolution of the American federal system from its origins through present day; intergovernmental cooperation and conflict; and the various theory and concepts associated with a breakdown of responsibilities among federal, state, and local governments.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
11/26/18 - 05/03/19 05/06/19 - 06/30/19 Spring 2019 Session I 8 Week session
02/25/19 - 08/02/19 08/05/19 - 09/29/19 Summer 2019 Session I 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

Objective 1: Analyze various theories of federalism.

Objective 2: Examine historical Supreme Court cases on federalism.

Objective 3: Evaluate contemporary Supreme Court cases on federalism.

Objective 4: Apply the federalism policies of various presidents to contemporary American government.

Objective 5: Assess the historical and contemporary debates over nullification and veto.

Objective 6: Analyze the theory and practice of secession, from comparative and American perspectives.

Objective 7: Assess the relationship between federalism, liberalism, and conservatism.

Objective 8: Synthesize contending perspectives on the role of the federal government.

Class learning is evaluated on the basis of (a) eight weekly forums; (b) a 3000-word research paper; and (c) a final exam

Please see the student handbook for the University’s grading scale.


Students will write a 3000-3500 word paper on one of the following topics:

1. Explanations for the growth of government.

2. Supreme Court cases:

  • Marbury v. Madison (1803)
  • McCullough v. Maryland (1819)
  • Hammer v. Danggenhart (1917)
  • National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation (1937)
  • Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
  • Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)
  • Plessy v. Ferguson (1895)
  • Wickard v. Filburn (1942)
  • Schecter Poultry Corporation v. United States (1935)
  • United States v. Butler (1936)
  • Ashwander v. Tennessee Valley Authority (1936)
  • West Coast Hotel Company v. Parrish (1937)
  • Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
  • Mapp v. Ohio (1960)
  • Gideon v. Wainwright (1962)
  • Baker v. Carr (1962)
  • Miranda v. Arizona (1965)
  • Furman v. Georgia (1972)
  • Roe v. Wade (1973)
  • National League of Cities v. Usery (1974)
  • United States v. Morrison (1980)
  • South Dakota v. Dole (1986)
  • US Term Limits v. Thornton (1994)
  • United States v. Lopez (1995)
  • Printz v. United States (1997)
  • Reno v. Condon (2000)
  • Bush v. Gore (2000)
  • Nevada v. Hibbs (2003)
  • Kelo v. New London (2005)
  • Gonzalez v. Raich (2005)
  • Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2008)
  • McDonald v. Chicago (2009)
  • Arizona v. United States (2011)
  • National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012)

    3. Federalism v. unitary systems

    4. Government reorganization plans:

    -President Nixon

    -President Carter

    -President Reagan

    -President Clinton

    -President Obama

    5. The doctrine of national supremacy

TEXTBOOKS (all available as e-books)

Christopher P. Banks and John C.Blakeman, The US Supreme Court and New Federalism: From the Rehnquist to the Roberts Court. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012.

Kyle Scott, Federalism: A Normative Theory and its Practical Relevance. New York: Continuum Books, 2011.

E. J. Dionne, Jr., Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent. New York: Bloomsbury, 2012.

Book Title:Various resources from the Open Web are used. Links provided inside the classroom in the Lessons section.
Author: No Author Specified

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.