Enumerated and Implied Powers

Before we get to the states, let’s finish our summary of how the framers set up the federal side. Last week, we mentioned the few enumerated powers assigned to the federal government. There are also implied powers. The last sentence in Article 1, Section 8 adds that Congress shall have authority “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”  This Necessary and Proper Clause is the basis for Supreme Court rulings that give Congress the implied powers necessary to implement the enumerated powers.[1]

Overall, the framers meant this list of [enumerated and implied] powers to be just enough to remedy the problems in the Articles of Confederation. Adding more powers would have lost the support from people who feared potential tyranny from an overly powerful national government.  Thus, the states would continue to set and administer policy for most aspects of Americans’ daily lives.

[1] In McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), the Supreme Court held that Congress has implied powers derived from those listed in Article I, Section 8.

Image: Second Bank of the United States. Library Company of Philadelphia.

2 thoughts on “Enumerated and Implied Powers”

  1. Where might I find a concise, yet detailed, comparison between the organizational characteristics of the early United States, and today’s United Nations? Perhaps with a chart and/or a Federalist Papers tie in?

    1. Hi Gregory,
      Check this out – it isn’t precisely what you want but it is very much in the direction you seek.
      Borowiak, C. T. (2007). Accountability debates: The federalists, the anti-federalists, and democratic deficits. The Journal of Politics, 69(4), 998-1014.
      Try Google Scholar to find more.
      And let me know what you learn.
      Best regards,
      – Doug at CFFAD

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