A U.S. state is any one of the fifty subnational entities of the United States 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.
Once again, 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.
Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.
- ↑ See the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.