Federal vs State – where the tension can arise


The debate raging in America over race is making headlines everywhere – Ferguson and New York are the current hot topics. There is an important subtext here however – the role of the federal government.

The US Constitution enshrines that both state and federal government have powers, and goes some way to laying them out. Depending on the interpretation of these 7,000 words, people draw their own conclusions on the role of the federal government – often these include terms like loose/strict constructionist or living constitutionalist/originalist.

The case of the young man who died in New York after being put into a strangle-hold by an NYPD officer however, goes some way to giving an example for tensions between states and federal government, but also the necessity for federal government. A grand jury, in this case, decided not to indict the police officer caused such outrage that the US Attorney General, Eric Holder,  has said a full investigation of the matter will take place – given that this was a New York man, an NYPD officer and the incident took place in New York, it clearly falls under state jurisdiction; but this is a great example of why, in some cases, the federal government feel the need to step in.

Obviously, there is also evidence here for Unit 3 Civil Rights topic, further to the earlier post about Ferguson.