AP Gov – Federalism Vocab

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Block Grants

Federal grant given more or less automatically to states or communities to support broad programs in areas such as community development and social services

Categorical Grants

federal grants that can be used only for specific purposes, or "categories," of state and local spending. They come with strings attached, such as nondiscrimination provisions.

Cooperative Federalism

A system of government in which powers and policy assignments are shared between states and the national government


transferring responsibility for policies from the federal government to state and local governments.

Dual Federalism

A system of government in which both the states and the national government remain supreme within their own spheres, each responsible for some policies.

Elastic Clause

The final paragraph of Article 1, Section 8, of the constitution, which authorizes Congress to pass all laws "necessary and proper" to carry out the enumerated powers.

Enumerated Powers

Powers of the federal government that are specifically addressed in the Constitution


A legal process whereby an alleged criminal offender is surrendered by the officials of one stat to officials of the state in which the crime is alleged to have been committed.


A way of organizing a nation so that two levels of government have formal authority over the same land and people. It is a system of shared power between units of government.

Fiscal Federalism

The pattern of spending, taxing, and providing grants in the federal system

Formula Grants

Federal categorical grants distributed according to a formula specified in legislation or in administrative regulations.

Full Faith and Credit Clause

A clause in Article IV, Section , of the constitution requiring each state to recognize the official documents and civil judgements rendered by the courts of other states

Gibbons vs. 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.

Implied Powers

Powers of the federal government that go beyond those enumerated in the constitution. The constitution states that congress has the power to "make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution" the powers enumerated in Article I.

Intergovernmental Relations

The working of federal system – the entire set of interactions among national, state, and local governments

Mccullouch vs. Maryland

A 1819 Supreme Court decision that established the supremacy of the national government over state governments

Privileges and Immunities Clause

A clause in Article IV, Section 2, of the Constitution according citizens of each state most of the privileges of citizens of other states.

Project Grants

Federal grants given for specific purposes and awarded on the basis of the merits of applications. A type of categorical grants available to states and localities.

Supremacy Clause

Article IV of the Constitution, which makes the Constitution, national laws, and treaties supreme over state laws when the national government is acting within its constitutional limits.

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