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The United States has a relatively unique relationship between state governments and the Federal government in that state governments are independent from the Federal government although there are certain points on which the Federal government can overrule state governments.

There are a number of questions which, at least to some degree, seek information along this divide.

"States' rights" is how this topic is often described in the US. So it seem natural that we have this tag. I don't believe that such a tag exists right now.

  • @Fizz what do you mean "no one agreed"? People agreed that it can be made a synonym for federalism. And you can't make a synonym before the tag exists. – grovkin Nov 1 at 13:29
  • @Fizz or perhaps I didn't misunderstand it and something else happened which I already described in other content on this page which you didn't see before jumping at me. – grovkin Nov 1 at 13:33
  • The US states’ relationship to their federal government is no more or less unique than that of countless other federal states. It often baffles people when I remind them that Germany has 16 school systems, 17 voting systems, 17 police forces and 19 secret services (assuming I didn’t get any number wrong). – Jan Nov 6 at 7:50
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I think it's a reasonable thing to have a tag for, but I think is too localized, since it's a term that is, so far as I know, specific to the United States. What about something closer to which would cover the relationship between a Federal government and local governments in a more general way? Then issues of "states-rights" would be tagged clearly with: and .

There are other cases where Federal governments clash with local governments outside the US. For example, the conflict between Madrid and autonomous communities like Catalonia is definitely a related topic to "states-rights", but it would be excluded from a US specific tag. By using the more general , these related topics could be linked.

As to the charge that is too academic: I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. We're trying to be more academic than most internet forums, and the fact that "federalism" is a less emotionally charged term is a good thing, in my opinion. It also wouldn't reduce accessibility, since if we make "states-rights" a synonym of "federalism", then people could still search for "states-rights" and then they'd be automatically redirected to the more general tag.

  • federalism is too academic. It used to refer to the same divide a long time ago. But if tags are to be used to make questions easier to group by well-known subject matter and to free-associate, states-rights is much more commonly understood. The tag Federalism can be made synonymous with states-rights though. – grovkin Oct 30 at 20:55
  • How about us-states-rights? – grovkin Oct 30 at 20:56
  • @grovkin That's doesn't make it any less localized. What if the parent tag is federalism and states-rights is a synonym of it? – divibisan Oct 30 at 21:06
  • The problem with federalism vs "states-rights" is that, to most Americans, "federalism" is something they learned in a history class while state laws vs federal laws is something that people have to deal with on somewhat regular basis. So if someone wanted to see what kinds of questions have already been asked, they would find much quicker by the tag "states-rights" than they would by "federalism". It's not so much about precise classification as about usefulness of tags as a search mechanism. – grovkin Oct 30 at 21:11
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    @grovkin Well, you can search for synonyms, so if you searched for [states-rights] you'd end up at [federalism], but I see your point. I think a more general term would be better for searching, though. There are likely similar issues involved in fights between Washington and US states and between Madrid and Catalonia, for example. A broader tag would help bring those related topics together – divibisan Oct 30 at 21:19
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    If such a tag comes forward, and as mentioned it seems a not very good idea, the corresponding wiki and resulting posts better be watched closely, as there a states' rights & states' rights. Seems to be too much of a classic? – LаngLаngС Oct 30 at 21:20
  • @LangLangC I've actually made this point in a number of answers and comments. Some of the states' rights that states are trying to carve out right now can be used in the future, or could have been used in the past, to increase discriminatory practices or reduce the Federal government's ability to stem such an increase. This is despite the fact that the intent of the current attempts may not be racially motivated at all. As I said, in the very 1st sentence... the fed-state relationship in the US is unique. – grovkin Oct 30 at 21:37
  • ok, i created the states-rights tag by applying it to a question. Apparently I need a rep of 5 or better to create a synonym for it. Or a moderator can do it, I guess. – grovkin Oct 30 at 22:10
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Perhaps it would be useful, but I do wonder about its scope. The tag was created (by grovkin) with a description roughly synonymous with [US] federalism:

questions related to the balance of power between the US Federal government and State governments.

So it is basically an intersection of "federalism" with the US (tag), as it stands. I'm not saying this kind of intersection is necessarily a bad practice because we do have as a tag, for example:

Questions related to any laws enacted by any of the 50 states in the United States. Use the [united-states] tag alongside this.

What I am concerned about however is that Wikipedia has this narrower definition for "states' rights":

In American political discourse, states' rights are political powers held for the state governments rather than the federal government according to the United States Constitution, reflecting especially the enumerated powers of Congress and the Tenth Amendment. The enumerated powers that are listed in the Constitution include exclusive federal powers, as well as concurrent powers that are shared with the states, and all of those powers are contrasted with the reserved powers—also called states' rights—that only the states possess.

So with the description of the states-rights tag as created by grovkin, it may be broader than what seems to be the usual scope of the notion.

And as also reflected in some comments below divibisan's answer, Wikipedia says

Since the 1940s, the term "states' rights" has often been considered a loaded term because of its use in opposition to federally mandated racial desegregation and more recently, same-sex marriage.

I'm not sure we'd want "pro-life" or "pro-choice" as a tag, for example. In sticking with Wikipedia's [narrower] meaning of "states' rights", "reserved powers" would be a more neutral substitute, but arguably less well-known to the general public.

Anyway, in sticking with the semi-consensus from the comments to the other answer, I've added a synonym suggestion from states-rights to federalism. You can go and vote on it here if you think it's preferable to have it that way. (grovkin apparently did not have enough tag-rep to make that suggestion himself.)

  • the entire civil rights movement was in opposition to states' rights being used to perpetuate racism-as-a-policy in some states. When people hear "federalism" they don't consider the Civil Rights movement in the balance of all considerations. When they hear "states rights", they do. The term carries more than an abstract consideration in the US. It's been used as the term and has history behind it. – grovkin Nov 3 at 15:24
  • @grovkin: you can also downvote synonyms if you think they're inappropriate. Oddly, I can't do that because I proposed the synonym. So one can't act a "devil's' advocate" in this matter (tag synonyms) on SE. (It would have been better is someone who thought it should a synonym would have made actual entry, but apparently they stopped paying attention to this question.) – Fizz Nov 3 at 15:26
  • @Fizz I actually just learned something new, I didn't know you could vote on tag synonyms. I think people just need a helping hand to get there, here's the direct link: politics.stackexchange.com/tags/federalism/synonyms – Jeff Lambert Nov 4 at 13:46

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