Federalism is a system of government in which the sovereign powers are distributed into two or more political units. According to the constitution of the United States of America, sovereignty is split between the central government and state governments, with each government possessing autonomous jurisdiction (Jones et al 120). It assigns primary roles to the states and the national government in a number of policy areas and maintains that they have reciprocal powers. The policy areas are shared by the federal, state, and local governments (Jones et al 120). This concurrency in powers requires a great deal of negotiation and understanding between the national government and the federal governments in order to pass and enact policies.
Texas has been on the forefront of shaping the federalism concepts in the United States of America through the Supreme Court cases seeking more interpretation of the concept of federalism (Jones et al 125). The state has a major contribution to the debate of federalism and the current government of Texas and the political leadership have been actively involved in the on the federalism debates. Republican leaders and politicians including the former Texas governor Perry and the current governors have all raised serious concerns about the impact of the federal government has on Texas. These leaders are basing their position that Texas should have a greater sovereignty based on the Tenth Amendment and the powers reserved to the states in the United States Constitution (Jones et al 122).
Leaders in Texas argue that the federal government has been gradually encroaching more policy areas that are reserved for states in the United States of America Constitution. According to the former Texas Governor Abbott, the national government of overreaching more policy areas reserved for the States (Jones et al 130). Abbott proposed for Texas and other states to join together and use the Article V amendment process to do a modification to the constitution to reassert equality and supremacy of the states in the system of government.
Texas relationship with the federal government has been troubled over the past few years. Texas has been fighting the federal government over various control issues such as the environmental regulations and over the oversight of the voting laws among other controls (Jones et al 12). This troubled relationship between Texas and the federal government has seen several court battles against the federal government. The state of Texas currently has about 18 lawsuits against the federal states.
The state of Texas always tussles with the government for various reasons such pollution, health care, civil rights and border security among others. Though this relationship has resulted to friction and mistrust between the state and the federal government, there has also been a mutual relationship on the other hand (Jones et al 140). Both the state and the federal government allows money to flow in both ways. The state cooperates with the federal government to fight disasters and diseases such as Ebola together.
The federal government has a strong influence on Texas laws and policies due to the fact that Texas is subject to the United States Constitution as wells as the federal law. The state is subject and abides the Bill of Rights that guarantees civil liberties and federal civil right laws (Jones et al 142). The federal government has the power to exert pressure to the state through fiscal federalism and influence it to enact certain policies since it provides the states with funds for their budgets.
One of the issues that have resulted in conflict between the state of Texas and the federal government is the Voter Rights Act that was passed in 2011 and came to effect in 2013 in Texas (Park & Ralph 1). This law requires that voters in Texas have to produce one of the various government-issued photo identification cards that include the state driving license, US passport or military id and finally the Texas election identification certificate (Park & Ralph 1). The law was introduced and passed to prevent what the proponents termed as the voter fraud by presenting photo identification cards before being allowed to vote.
The law has been criticized by critics both in the state and federal government who are opposed to it. Critics argue that these requirements are meant to marginalize the poor and minority voter groups (Park & Ralph 1). The state does not permit those with the federal IDs or the student ID to vote while at the same time they allow and accept those with a handgun license to vote.
During the President Obama administration, the Department of Justice and other organizations joined hands in an attempt to stop the law which they considered as the strictest voting identification card laws in the United States of America (Park & Ralph 1). However, this has changed during President Donald Trump administration and has seen the Justice Department withdrawing its claims against the law.
In April 2017, a federal court ruled against the law with the federal judge arguing that the Texas voter ID law was passed and implemented with the intention of discriminating the minority groups and violating the voting rights (Park & Ralph 1). The judge argued that the terms that were provided in the bill ware very strict and the Texas bill omitted other categories of photo identification cards that were acceptable in other states. According to this ruling, the bill had an impact on discrimination and the pattern of conduct in the bill was unexplainable on other grounds other than the factor of the race.
The ruling received different reactions with Attorney General of Texas being disappointed by the federal court ruling and vowed to file an appeal against the ruling (Park & Ralph 1). On the other hand, advocates of the voting rights and critics of the law applauded the decision of the judge.
In conclusion, there have been conflicts between the state of Texas and the federal government. These conflicts have a resulted to friction and mistrust between to two level of government that has resulted in court battles against each other. The state has accused the federal government to encroaching the policy areas that are reserved to the states by United States Constitution. This has resulted in court battles between the state and the federal government. In the case against the Texas voting bill, the federal court ruled against it sighting discrimination against the minorities groups.
For the state of Texas and the federal government relationship to develop in a positive manner there is the need for two levels of government to understand and negotiate with each other about the enactment of laws and policies. This will help in reducing the conflicts between the two and also minimize the court cases against each other.
Park, Madison & Ralph,Ellis,. Texas voter ID law was designed to discriminate, judge rules. 12 April 2017. 7 November 2017.
Mark Jones, William Earl Maxwell, Ernest Crain, Morhea Lynn Davis & Christopher Wlezein. Texas Politics Today 2017-2018 Edition. Boston: Cengage Learning., 2016.