Segments in this Video

Episode Overview (02:28)


This episode of “The Constitution: That Delicate Balance” will cover federalism and states’ rights. Can the states, which created the federal government, be forced to accept federal standards for education?

Federal Requirements for Disabled Students (09:03)

Session moderator Lewis Kaden describes a scenario in which an 11-year-old boy who is confined to a wheelchair wants to attend his neighborhood school, which is not equipped to accommodate his needs. What are his options? What does federal law require of the school?

Why Are Federal Government and Courts Involved? (04:48)

Judge J. Clifford Wallace says there is no constitutional right to education, meaning any lawsuit would be settled under state law. Retired Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart clarifies that the student would be protected under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Imposing Federal Standards (10:19)

Kaden outlines a new scenario in which the president has promised federal subsidies for teacher salaries; in exchange, states must accept guidelines for student curriculum and standardized testing. Who should decide local educational priorities?

Federalism Clarified (08:53)

The principles of federalism and states’ rights are outlined in the 10th Amendment. The federal government was created by the states and holds power states have surrendered to it. The constitution allows Congress to enact laws and spend money for the general welfare. Governors and other panelists ponder whether funds should be accepted and how they should be spent.

Expansion of Federal Power (04:02)

The president’s views on federalism are sometimes dictated by politics, as first illustrated by Thomas Jefferson. The balance of power has greatly shifted away from states towards a strong, central government. Panelist question how much influence the federal government should have in Kaden’s example.

Protecting States' Rights (08:23)

Students in some districts are having trouble passing required competency tests in Kaden’s scenario, meaning they won’t be able to graduate. Panelists discuss possible fixes including filing lawsuits claiming violations of the 14th Amendment and the principles of federalism.

Nature of Today's Federalism (03:25)

Would the Founding Fathers recognize today’s federalism? Sen. Daniel Moynahan cites the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which the Congress of the Confederation passed to annex territory; it contained provisions calling for a public university making it the country’s first educational statute. Journalist Fred Graham recalls the role the federal government played in ending Jim Crow-era discrimination.

10th Amendment Explained (03:25)

Thomas Jefferson considered the 10th Amendment to be the bedrock of the U.S. Constitution, yet today many are not familiar with what it says. It calls for a limited federal government with specific powers. By necessity, the U.S. has evolved into one nation as opposed to the 13 independent nations that comprised the original colonies.

Credits: Federalism (01:45)

Credits: Federalism

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Part of the Series : Constitution: That Delicate Balance
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



How much power the federal government can wield over state and local affairs is debated in this final episode. Among those featured are Senators Orrin Hatch and Daniel Moynihan and Columbia University professor Diane Ravitch.

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL160422

Copyright date: ©1984

Closed Captioned

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