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How to approach the FRQ:

Be precise
Marshal evidence
Perform the tasks at hand
Move on after addressing each part
Remember: this is NOT an essay! Its
a short series of specific prompts
requiring FOCUSED (not free!)
responses
Relax. Youll be fine!

The Statement
The Constitution created a federal
government in order to address
problems of decentralization that were
experienced under the Articles of
Confederation.
- Note: this is NOT a question; its a
statement. It gives you a general idea
of the theme youll be asked to
address.

Part (a):
Define federalism.
Your only task here is to provide a definition. There is no
need for an introduction, a thesis, or any other musing on
politics or history.
Sample response:
Federalism is a system of government in which the
power to govern is shared between a central authority
and smaller state and local authorities.
Then, MOVE ON!

Part (b):
List three problems of decentralized power that
existed under the Articles of Confederation. For
each problem you list, identify one solution that
the Constitution provides to address the problem.
What you have to do is straightforward and simple.
You are not writing an essay about the weaknesses
of the Articles of Confederation or a veneration of
the Constitution. You are essentially providing two
lists for each, a series OR bullet points will
suffice. Lets take one piece of this at a time.

Part (b) continued:


List three problems of decentralized power
that existed under the Articles of
Confederation.
Sample response:
Three problems of decentralized power under
the Articles were:
-no power to tax
-no power to raise an army
-no centralized court system

Part (b) continued:


For each problem you list, identify one solution that
the Constitution provides to address the problem.
Sample response:
The Constitution resolved these problems by:
-giving Congress the power to tax
-making the President Commander in Chief of the
military
-creating a system of federal courts
Then, MOVE ON!

Part (c):
Some have argued that the tensions between decentralized and
centralized power continue to exist. Support this argument by
explaining how one of the following illustrates the continuing tension.

Education reform
Gun control
Welfare reform
Your job here is to use evidence to back up the claim being made in part
(c) that tensions still exist. You can NOT simply cite a legal case or a
law; you must explain the connection between the legal case or law and
the policy area (i.e. education reform, gun control, welfare reform)
youve selected.

Part (c) continued:


Some have argued that the tensions between
decentralized and centralized power continue to exist.
Support this argument by explaining how one of the
following illustrates the continuing tension.
Sample response (education reform):
The No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001,
illustrates this tension because it gives the federal
government more authority over the domain of
education than ever before in US history. Previously,
education was a reserved power -- it had always been
a domain governed by the states and localities alone.

Part (c) continued:


Some have argued that the tensions between
decentralized and centralized power continue to exist.
Support this argument by explaining how one of the
following illustrates the continuing tension.
Sample response (gun control):
Many pieces of legislation, from the Gun Free School
Zones Act to the Brady Act, have attempted to federally
restrict the ownership and possession of firearms. In each
case, lawsuits have tested the constitutionality of these
federal restrictions and resulted in compromises between
federal and state authorities, illustrating the continued
tensions between the two.

Part (c) continued:


Some have argued that the tensions between
decentralized and centralized power continue to exist.
Support this argument by explaining how one of the
following illustrates the continuing tension.
Sample response (welfare reform):
In 1996, the Welfare Reform Act was passed, which
transferred a great deal of authority from the federal
government to the states in the distribution of social
welfare. This type of devolution illustrates the continued
tensions and changing balance of power and
responsibility between the state and federal
governments.