Implied Powers

Definition - What does Implied Powers mean?

Implied powers are powers that are not specifically given to the government by the U.S. Constitution, but that are implied because they are necessary to carry out the powers that are expressly listed in the Constitution. In other words, implied powers are the secondary powers that the government has because of the existence of the primary powers.

The implied powers of Congress are also called the Elastic Clause and has been the source of much controversy over the years. This power can be found under Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 of the Constitution, marked as the "Necessary and Proper Clause." The idea behind the clause is that additions to the regulations may be deemed to be necessary and proper for the ongoing running of something in particular, such as interstate commerce. Since the definition of what is necessary or proper can vary greatly depending on who is asked, this has always been a point of contention.

Justipedia explains Implied Powers

The Constitution grants certain powers to the government. However, due to changes in time, technology and other variables, it would have been impossible for the Founding Fathers to lay out every single power that the government could have in the future. So, certain powers are simply implied. For example, the Constitution grants Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations. However, it does not specifically say that Congress has the ability to control the amount of electronic products that come in from Asia every year; this power is simply implied.

Some of the other implied powers of Congress include the power to give money to public schools, the power to maintain the Federal Reserve Board, the ability to prohibit discrimination in any public space including restaurants and hotels, the ability to establish a minimum wage, and the ability to monitor for air and water pollution. Other areas that have been affected by the implied powers of Congress are the ability to limit the number of immigrants that the United States takes in on a yearly basis, and the ability to monitor competition in order to eliminate monopolies and to take measures that would prevent monopolies from occurring.

The listed areas that can be governed through the Elastic Clause are things that, by nature, do not stay static. For example, the amount of money that the government gives an elementary school should obviously be proportionate to the amount of students enrolled in the school in any given year, so that the school can cover all areas that are necessary (like supplies). Regarding pollution, it is obvious that with the advent of new production and manufacturing methods, there could possibly be new ways in which pollution is being spread; and since pollution is outlawed in full, there has to be the ability to ensure that new forms of pollutants are likewise controlled.

The interpretation of how the Elastic Clause can be implied is so broad that this is the reason for the "Elastic" part in the clause name. In creating this breadth, it allows for the absolute knowledge that the government can take care of any issue that arises in the future. Without this ability, the country or its citizens could be harmed by negative results or byproducts of new industry or growth.

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