Implied powers Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Authority a government is assumed to have in order to perform its constitutionally prescribed duties. These powers are not specifically enumerated; rather, they constitute the unwritten methods a government may employ in order to exercise its enumerated powers.

In its earliest and most renowned implied powers case, McCulloch v. Maryland[case]McCulloch v. Maryland[MacCulloch v. Maryland] (1819), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the federal government to incorporate a national bank in Baltimore, Maryland. In doing so, it accomplished three important goals: It clarified the power of state taxation and congressional authority in economic policy making, reinforced the principles of U.S. federalism, and specified that the necessary and proper clause of the Constitution grants Congress certain implied powers that extend beyond its enumerated powers.

After McCulloch, the implied powers were used to expand (Gibbons v. Ogden, 1824) and contract (United States v. Lopez, 1995) governmental power. Although many of the cases decided by the Court dealt with economic policies, the Court also addressed crime prevention programs, federalism cases, and the implied powers of the presidency. Indeed, the majority of presidential powers are based on authority implicit in such enumerated, yet vague, powers as the commander in chief and executive power clauses of the Constitution.

Constitutional interpretation

McCulloch v. Maryland

Presidential powers

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