Evolution of Federalism
Activity 1

Is it Constitutional?

You belong to a committee in a state legislature when the United States was a young nation (before the U.S. Civil War). Your committee is examining some bills proposed in your legislature to decide whether your state has the power to pass them according to the U.S. Constitution. The subject matter of the bills is in the left-hand column of the table that follows. Your job is to answer the question in the right-hand column for each of the bills:

Table 1. Subject Matter of Bills Proposed in Your State Legislature Circle if the bill is constitutional
1. Tax on food imported from other states and use that money to improve roads Yes -- No
2. Tax furniture imported from other nations to help protect furniture manufactur-ers in your state Yes -- No
3. Set up public schools in your state Yes -- No
4. Increase the pay of members of your state legislature Yes -- No
5. Increase the number of state appeals court judges in your state Yes -- No
6. Enter into a treaty with Great Britain to help defend your state against Indians Yes -- No
7. Tax property in your state to build new roads in your state Yes -- No
8. Coin money to be used by the citizens of your state Yes -- No
9. Declare by law that a citizen, John Smith, is guilty of murder and shall be executed (Witnesses saw him commit the act and he also confessed.) Yes -- No
10. Establish a navy without consent of Congress to protect the coasts of the state Yes -- No
11. Guarantee the right of white males to own slaves Yes -- No
12. Buy the property of people whose homes are in the way of roads to be built Yes -- No
13. Increase the number of state prisons Yes -- No
14. Limit voting to those men who own property worth over $10,000 Yes -- No
15. Provide for the construction of canals in the state to improve the state's transportation system Yes -- No
16. Set standards for hospitals in the state Yes -- No
17. Forbid the hiring of women for jobs that require heavy lifting Yes -- No