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The Founders and Federalism

The Constitution gives three types of power to the national government:

Delegated (called enumerated or expressed) Powers. Specifically granted to the federal government in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. It includes power to coin money, to regulate commerce, to declare war, to raise/maintain armed forces, and to establish a Post Office. In all, the Constitution delegates 27 powers specifically to the federal government.

Implied powers. Are not specifically stated in the Constitution, but may be inferred from Article I, Section 8. This gives Congress the right "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and other powers vested in the government of the United States." Since these powers are not explicit, the courts are often left to decide what constitutes an implied power.

Inherent Powers. Are not specifically listed in the Constitution, but grow out of the very existence of the national government but not listed on the Constitution. For example, the United States has the power to acquire territory by exploration and/or occupancy, primarily because most governments in general claim that right.

The Constitution also identifies Reserved Powers, which are set aside for the states. Unlike delegated powers, they are not listed specifically, but are guaranteed by The Tenth Amendment. Some traditional reserved powers include regulating trade within a state, establishing local government and conducting elections.

Concurrent powers of federal and state governments overlap. For example, both may, levy taxes, make and enforce laws, and borrow money.

The founders carefully divided powers between federal and state governments. Their careful separating and blending of state and national powers guarded against tyranny, allowed for more citizen participation in government, and provided a mechanism for incorporating new policies and programs.


Source: The Founders and Federalism
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