Essay about Mandates and Federalism, from AP Government class. Great analysis with bibliography.

Essay by sophmore86High School, 12th gradeA+, March 2005

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Over the last twenty-five years, federalism has transformed due to the increase in federal mandates on state and local governments. Federalism refers to a political system in which there are local units of government, as well as a national government, that can make final decisions with respect to at least some governmental activities, and whose existence is protected. When the Framers devised this political system their goal was to protect personal liberty and create a separation of powers. Over the years, federalism's goal of decentralization evolved giving states more leeway. Mandates, however, have in a way, increased federal power, imposing requirements and/or conditions for obtaining federal grants. These mandates provided federal restrictions on states' economic actions and have served the former purpose of protecting personal liberties because they usually concern civil rights and environmental protection. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, for example, shows how federalism has changed and how mandates have augmented the regulation of state and local governments' actions.

Mandates created a new form of a "check" on state governmental activities. Mandates increased federal supremacy because they were mandatory. They take the form of regulatory statutes. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, for instance, required that businesses and state and local governments provide the disabled with equal access to services, transportation systems, employment, and buildings. In enacting this mandate, the federal government's objective was to create equality and regulate what the states did with federal funds by imposing costs. State or local governments may not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities. All government facilities, services, and communications must be accessible consistent with the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Individuals may file complaints with federal agencies to be designated by the U.S. Attorney General or bring private lawsuits. The...