A U.S. state is any one of the 50 subnational entities of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government (four states use the official title of commonwealth rather than state). Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. However, state citizenship is very flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states (with the exception of convicts on parole).
The United States Constitution allocates power between the two levels of government in general terms. By ratifying the Constitution, each state transfers certain sovereign powers to the federal government. Under the Tenth Amendment, all powers not explicitly transferred are retained by the states and the people. Historically, the tasks of public education, public health, transportation and other infrastructure have been considered primarily state responsibilities, although all have significant federal funding and regulation as well.
Over time, the Constitution has been amended, and the interpretation and application of its provisions have changed. The general tendency has been toward centralization, with the federal government playing a much larger role than it once did. There is a continuing debate over "states' rights", which concerns the extent and nature of the states' powers and sovereignty (in relation to that of the federal government) and their power over individuals.
Federal power Edit
Since the 1930s, the Supreme Court of the United States has interpreted the Commerce Clause of the Constitution of the United States in an expansive way that has dramatically expanded the scope of federal power. For example, Congress can regulate railway traffic across state lines, but it may also regulate rail traffic solely within a state, based on the theory that wholly intrastate traffic can still have an impact on interstate commerce.
Another source of Congressional power is its "spending power"—the ability of Congress to impose uniform taxes across the nation and then distribute the resulting revenue back to the states (subject to strict conditions set by Congress). A classic example of this is the system of "federal-aid highways", which includes the Interstate Highway System. The system is mandated and largely funded by the federal government, but also serves the interests of the states. By threatening to withhold federal highway funds, Congress has been able to persuade state legislatures to pass a variety of laws. Although some object that this infringes on states' rights, the Supreme Court has upheld the practice as a permissible use of the Constitution's Spending Clause.
State governments Edit
States are free to organize their state governments any way they like, as long as they conform to the sole requirement of the U.S. Constitution that they have "a Republican Form of Government". In practice, each state has adopted a three branch system of government generally along the same lines as that of the federal government—though this is not a requirement.
Despite the fact that each state has chosen to follow the federal model, there are significant differences in some states. One of the most notable is that of the unicameral Nebraska Legislature, which, unlike the legislatures of the other 49 states, has only one house. While there is only one federal president, who then selects a Cabinet responsible to him, most states have a plural executive, with members of the executive branch elected directly by the people and serving as equal members of the state cabinet alongside the governor. And only a few states choose to have their judicial branch leaders—their judges on the state's courts—serve for life terms.
A key difference between states is that many rural states have part-time legislatures, while the states with the highest populations tend to have full-time legislatures. Texas, the second largest state in population, is a notable exception to this: excepting special sessions, the Texas Legislature is limited by law to 140 calendar days out of every two years. In Baker v. Carr, the U.S. Supreme Court held that all states are required to have legislative districts which are proportional in terms of population.
States can also organize their judicial systems differently from the federal judiciary, as long as due process is protected. See state court and state supreme court for more information. Most have a trial level court, generally called a District Court or Superior Court, a first-level appellate court, generally called a Court of Appeal (or Appeals), and a Supreme Court. However, Texas has a separate highest court for criminal appeals. New York state is notorious for its unusual terminology, in that the trial court is called the Supreme Court. Appeals are then taken to the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, and from there to the Court of Appeals. Most states base their legal system on English common law (with substantial indigenous changes and incorporation of certain civil law innovations), with the notable exception of Louisiana, which draws large parts of its legal system from French civil law.
Relationships among the states Edit
Under Article IV of the Constitution, which outlines the relationship between the states, the United States Congress has the power to admit new states to the union. The states are required to give "full faith and credit" to the acts of each other's legislatures and courts, which is generally held to include the recognition of legal contracts, marriages, criminal judgments, and—at the time—slave status. States are prohibited from discriminating against citizens of other states with respect to their basic rights, under the Privileges and Immunities Clause. The states are guaranteed military and civil defense by the federal government, which is also required to ensure that the government of each state remains a republic.
States called commonwealths Edit
- Main article: Commonwealth (United States)
Four of the states bear the formal title of commonwealth: Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In these cases, this is merely a historically based name and has no legal effect. Somewhat confusingly, two U.S. territories—Puerto Rico and the Northern Marianas—are also referred to as commonwealths, and do have a legal status different from the states (both are unincorporated territories).
List of states Edit
The following sortable table lists each of the 50 states of the United States with the following information:
- The common state name
- The preferred pronunciation of the common state name as transcribed with the International Phonetic Alphabet (see Help:IPA for English for a key)
- The United States Postal Service (USPS) two-character state abbreviation
(also used as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Standard 3166-2 country subdivision code)
- An image of the official state flag
- The date the state ratified the United States Constitution or was admitted to the Union
- The United States Census Bureau estimate of state population as of July 1, 2007
- The state capital
- The most populous incorporated place or Census Designated Place within the state as of 2007-07-01, as estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau
Grouping of the states in regions Edit
States may be grouped in regions; there are endless variations and possible groupings, as most states are not defined by obvious geographic or cultural borders. For further discussion of regions of the U.S., see the list of regions of the United States.
State lists Edit
See also Edit
- ↑ See the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- ↑ Template:Cite web
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- ↑ The Hartford-West Hartford-Willimantic Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Connecticut.
- ↑ The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Florida.
- ↑ Baltimore City and the 12 Maryland counties of the Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in Maryland.
- ↑ The City of Saint Louis and the 8 Missouri counties of the St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in Missouri.
- ↑ The 5 southeastern New Hampshire counties of the Boston-Worcester-Manchester Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in New Hampshire.
- ↑ The 13 northern New Jersey counties of the New York-Newark-Bridgeport Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in New Jersey.
- ↑ New York City is the most populous city in the United States.
- ↑ The Cleveland-Akron-Elyria Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Ohio.
- ↑ The Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in South Carolina.
- ↑ The Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Columbia Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Tennessee.
- ↑ The Dallas-Fort Worth Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Texas.
- ↑ The 10 Virginia counties and 6 Virginia cities of the Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in Virginia.
- State Resource Guides, from the Library of Congress
- Tables with areas, populations, densities and more (in order of population)
- Tables with areas, populations, densities and more (alphabetical)
- Origin of State Names
- Rick's Search Assistant—Web links & addresses for many state agencies, e.g., Motor Vehicles, Corporate Records, Attorneys General
- State and Territorial Governments on USA.gov
- StateMaster - statistical database for US States.
- United States Postal Service
- U.S. States: Comparisons, rankings, demographics
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