Mar 30 2016

Enumerated Powers of the US Government

The United States Constitution is designed to expressly define and limit the powers of government to prevent it from devolving into tyranny and the abandonment of liberty.

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
– James Madison

Three branches are defined as legislative (Congress), executive (President and Agencies), and judicial (Federal courts and Supreme Court) with specific powers enumerated for each branch.

Legislative enumerated powers:

In Article I, Section 8, there is a list of eighteen clauses known as the “list of enumerated powers”. While this is not the only place in the Constitution that powers are enumerated, this list includes the following:

  1. Taxes, common defense, general welfare
  2. Credit, borrowing upon
  3. Commerce, regulation
  4. Naturalization and bankruptcy
  5. Coin money, set weights and measures
  6. Punishment for counterfeiting
  7. Post offices and post roads
  8. Promote progress, secure rights
  9. Courts, establish lower court system
  10. Piracy, define and punish
  11. War, declare
  12. Armies
  13. Navy
  14. Rules for land and naval forces
  15. Militia, call out
  16. Militia, organize and arm
  17. DC, seat of govt
  18. Necessary and proper laws

Article I, Section 2, clause 3 – enumeration of population
Article I, Secion 6 – elections of Senators and Representatives and salary
Article I, Section 9, clause 1 – prohibit importation of slaves
Article I, Section 9, clause 1 – restrict immigration
Article I, Section 9, clause 2 – suspend writs of Habeas Corpus
Article I, Section 10, clasue 2 and 3 – revise and control imposts or duties on imports or exports which may be laid by states
Article III, Section 3, clause 2 – declare the punishment for treason
Article IV, Section 1 – implementation of “Full Faith and Credit” clause
Article V – procedures for amending the Constitution

The 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, and 26th Amendments assigned additional powers regarding civil rights and voting rights, the public debt, income tax, successions to offices, dates of assembly, and appointment of representatives from D.C.

Executive enumerated powers:

Article I, Section 7, clauses 2 and 3 – grants to the President the power to approve or veto Bills and Resolutions passed by Congress.

Article I, Section 9, next to last clause – grants to the executive Branch – the Treasury Department – the power to write checks pursuant to Appropriations made by law.

Article II, Section 1, clause 1 – vests executive power to the President (being the power to execute the laws passed by Congress).

Article II, Section 1, last clause – the President’s Oath of Office – to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”.

Article II, Secton 2:
clause 1 – makes the President Commander in Chief of the regular military, and of the Militia when they are called into the actual service of the United States.
clause 3 – authorizes the President to require the principal Officers in the executive Departments to provide written Opinions upon the Duties of their Offices, grants the President power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for offenses against the United States,
clause 4 – but he can not stop impeachments of any federal judge or federal officer.

Article II, Section 2 – grants to the President the power:
clause 2 – to make Treaties – with the advice and consent of the Senate.
clause 5 – to nominate Ambassadors, other public ministers and Consuls, federal judges, and various other officers – with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Article II, Section 2, clause 3 – grants to the President the power to make recess appointments, which expire at the end of Congress’ next session.

Article II, Sec. 3:
Imposes the duty on the President to periodically advise Congress on the state of the union, and authorizes the President to recommend to Congress such measures as he deems wise.
Authorizes the President, on extraordinary occasions (such as declaring war), to convene one or both houses of Congress; and if both houses can not agree on when to adjourn, he is authorized to adjourn them to such time as he deems proper.
Imposes the duty upon the President to receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers.
Imposes the duty upon the President to take care that the Laws be faithfully executed.
Imposes the duty upon the President to commission all the officers of the United States.

Judicial enumerated powers:

Article III Section 2 – lists the cases which federal courts are permitted to hear. They may hear only cases:

a) Arising under the Constitution, or the Laws of the United States, or Treaties made under the Authority of the United States [1] [“federal question” jurisdiction];

b) Affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers & Consuls; cases of admiralty & maritime Jurisdiction; or cases in which the U.S. is a Party [“status of the parties” jurisdiction];

c) Between two or more States; between a State & Citizens of another State; between Citizens of different States; between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States;[2] or between a State (or Citizens thereof) & foreign States, Citizens or Subjects[3] [“diversity” jurisdiction].