Powers of the National Government

The National Government is a government of delegated powers; it only has the powers delegated (granted) to it in the Constitution.

Types of Delegated Powers:

1.       Expressed Powers:  powered spelled out expressly in the Constitution.  Also called enumerated powers.  These can be found in Article 1, Section 8 which contains 18 clauses, and gives 27 powers to Congress including the power to lay and collect taxes, coin money, regulate foreign trade and interstate commerce and maintain armed forces, to declare war, to fix standards of weights and measure, to grant patents and copyrights, and to do many other things.
Article II, Section 2 gives powers to the President, which include the power to act as commander in chief of the armed forces, to grant reprieves and pardons, to make treaties, and to appoint major federal officials.  Article III gives “the judicial Power of the United States to the Supreme Court and other courts in the federal judiciary. 

2.       Implied Powers:  not expressed in the Constitution but are suggested by the expressed powers.  The constitutional basis for this is in the “necessary and proper power” (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18).  This term has come to mean “convenient and useful”; it is sometimes called the Elastic Clause, because it has been stretched to cover so many situations.  Examples include:  regulation of labor-management relations, building dams and interstate highways, federal crimes: kidnapped persons across state lines, moving stolen goods, prohibiting racial discrimination.

3.       The Inherent Powers:  belong to the National government because it is the national government of a sovereign state in the world.  They are the powers that all national governments posses and it was clear that the framers intended the National government to have these powers.  Examples include the power to regulate immigration, deport aliens, acquire territory, grant diplomatic recognition to other states, and protect the nation against rebellion.  These again come from the expressed powers.  The power to acquire territory can be drawn from the treaty-making power and the several war powers.

4.       Powers denied to the National Government:  the Constitution states which powers the federal government does not have such as to take private property for public use without the payment of just compensation, to prohibit freedom or religion, speech, etc. to conduct illegal searches or seizures, to deny a person accused of a crime to a speedy and public trial.  Some powers are denied because of their silence; the government only has the power given to it. Among these powers not granted are the powers to create a public school system for the nation, to enact uniform marriage and divorce laws, and to set up units of local government. 















Word Bank:  regulating immigration, collecting taxes, coining money, regulating labor relations, building dams, building highways, prohibiting discrimination, declaring war, giving diplomatic recognition.