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AP Gov Federalism Practice Prompt Answers & Feedback

2 min readjanuary 13, 2021


AP US Government 🏛️

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View student writing samples for the practice AP United States Government FRQ and corresponding feedback provided by Fiveable teacher Nicole Johnston. It is important to practice with prompts like these and learn how other students respond to them to improve one's own FRQ writing.

FRQ Prompt

  1. What are two constitutional questions addressed in McCulloch v. Maryland? What impact did the ruling have on the development of the growing nation?
  2. How does the interpretation of the commerce clause in the majority opinion in United States v. Lopez compare to the interpretation of the commerce clause in Gibbons v. Ogden?

FRQ Submissions and Feedback

Practice Submission 1

  1. The two constitutional questions addressed in McCulloch v. Maryland were if Congress had the power to establish a national bank based on the necessary and proper clause and if states could tax the federal government. The ruling was in favor of the Bank of the US by stating that Congress can create the bank and the states did not have the power to tax the federal government based on the supremacy clause. This case greatly increased the power of the federal government in the growing nation.
  2. Though both US v. Lopez and Gibbons v. Ogden both involve the commerce clause, US v. Lopez limited the power of the federal government while Gibbons v. Ogden increased it. The ruling in US v. Lopez declared that possession of a firearm in a school zone doesn’t constitute an economic activity. The government’s argument that the possession of firearms will lead to crime and lower the economy is not supported by the Commerce Clause: it’s more or so an overreach. This case showcased that Congress exceeded its authority and that the Commerce Clause does not give them unlimited power. The ruling in Gibbons v. Ogden showcased selective exclusiveness: that only the national government could regulate interstate commerce. Supreme Court proclaimed that when a person buys a ticket and crosses state lines, they are a piece of trade. Therefore New York couldn’t give a monopoly to a ferry service that operates between New York and New Jersey.

Teacher Feedback

Great understanding of the cases!

Practice Submission 2

  1. Who has more power? Can the state government tax federal government banks? It showed that the nation had more power than the states.
  2. The commerce clause in United States v. Lopez was interpreted as the state government cannot regulate intrastate commerce. The commerce clause in Gibbons v. Ogden was interpreted as the federal government can regulate interstate commerce.

Teacher Feedback

In your first response, make sure to include the key concepts of the necessary and proper clause as well as the supremacy clause. Try not to answer with questions. For your second answer, go beyond just giving the rulings of the cases. Explain why a different ruling was issued. How were they different and how were they the same?

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