AP Gov Chapter 3

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Definition: A way of organizing a nation so that two or more levels of government have formal authority over the same land and people. Significance: Splits power between different units of government. Makes citizens accountable for formal authority under both state and national governments.

Enumerated vs. Implied Powers

Definition: Enumerated powers are powers of the federal government that are specifically addressed in the Constitution; for Congress, including the powers listed in Article I, Section 8, for example, to coin money and regulate its value and impose taxes. Implied powers are powers of the federal government that go beyond those enumerated in the Constitution, in accordance with the statement in the Constitution that Congress has the power to "make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution" the powers enumerated in Article I. Significance: An example from 1819, McCulloch v. Maryland went to the Supreme Court for state power against national power. Two great constitutional principles were created: supremacy of the national government over the states, and the national government has certain implied powers that go beyond it enumerated powers.

Necessary and Proper Clause

Definition: The final paragraph of Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, which authorizes Congress to pass all laws "necessary and proper" to carry out the enumerated powers. Significance: Congress is now given the power to be able to increase their own power. Can place regulations on food, drugs, highways, air, and water.

Supremacy Clause

Definition: The clause in Article VI of the Constitution that makes the Constitution, natural laws, and treaties supreme over state laws as long as the national government is acting within its constitutional limits. Significance: Judges are ordered to obey the Constitution even if their state laws contradict it. All state executives, legislation, and judges are bound by oath to support the constitution.

Commerce Clause

Definition: the United States Congress shall have power "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." Significance: Gibbons v. Ogden- a landmark case decided in 1824 in which the Supreme Court interpreted very broadly the clause in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution giving Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce as encompassing virtually every form of commercial activity. Wickard v. Filburn- a United States Supreme Court decision that dramatically increased the regulatory power of the federal government.

Full Faith and Credit Clause

Definition: A clause in Article IV of the Constitution requiring each state to recognize the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of all other states. Significance: Without this clause, people could avoid their obligations, for example, to make payments on automobile loans by crossing state boundaries. It also allows courts to enforce contracts between business firms across state boundaries.

Privileges and Immunities Clause

Definition: The provision of the Constitution according citizens of each state the privileges of citizens of other states. Significance: No citizens will be removed of their liberties because of where they were borns. States can’t restrict their citizen’s freedoms with laws passed through state government.

Tenth Amendment

Definition: The constitutional amendment stating, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." Significance: The national government only has the powers that the Constitution gave it. The states and the citizens have supreme power over any activity not mentioned in the Constitution.


Definition: Transferring responsibility for policies from the federal government to state and local governments. Significance: Gives states and local governments the power over things like speed limits, welfare policy, and prisoners. Personalizes government at a level where citizens are aware of the changes.

Fiscal federalism

Definition: The pattern of spending, taxing, and providing grants in the federal system; it is the cornerstone of the national government’s relations with state and local government. Significance: Allows the national government to aid and influence the state and local governments. Expands money spent on federal grants rapidly.


Definition: Categorical- Federal grants that can be used only for specific purposes or categories of state and local spending. Project- Federal, categorical grant given for specific purposes and awarded on the basis of the merits of applications. Formula- Federal categorical grants distributed according to a formula specified in a legislation or in administrative regulations. Block- Federal grants given more or less automatically to states or communities to support broad programs in areas such as community development and social services. Significance: Distribution and formulas vary grant to grant and also on population. More often than not come with strings attached, such as nondiscrimination provisions.


Definition: an official order or commission to do something Significance: Gives the power of ordering without question or time wasted. Also gives the power to immediately stop projects at smaller levels.

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