Section 7: Comparison of National and State Governments

State governments are organized much like the government of the United States. According to the U.S. Constitution, however, the laws of the United States are the supreme laws of the land. This means that the states cannot make laws that go against the U.S. Constitution or clash with laws passed by Congress.

The national government has certain powers, and state governments have certain powers. Some powers are shared by both the national and state governments.

Powers of the United States government include taxing people to support the national government, minting (coining) money, dealing with other nations, and declaring (becoming involved in) war. The national government also controls trade between states and between the United States and other nations.

Some of the state powers include taxing people to support the state government; funding public schools, colleges and universities; issuing driver’s licenses; and controlling trade within the state.

A number of powers are shared between the national and state governments. These include making laws, managing a court system, taxing people, borrowing money, and helping take care of the health and well-being of people.

The U.S. Constitution states that certain powers have been reserved for the people. Examples include the right to have any religion or no religion, the right to express opinions, and the right to protest against the government.

National and State Government

Figure 14. National and State Government. Some powers of government belong to the national government. Other powers belong to state governments. Some powers are shared by the national and state governments. (SHSND-ND Studies)