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Enumerated and implied powers of the US federal government

The video explains the difference between enumerated and implied powers in the U.S. government. Enumerated powers are clearly listed, like Congress's ability to collect taxes. Implied powers aren't explicitly listed but are assumed, like the Necessary and Proper Clause. This understanding helps us explore state versus federal power debates.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] In this video we're gonna focus on enumerated powers versus implied powers for the federal government. Enumerated just means powers that have been made explicit, that are clear, that have been enumerated, that have been listed some place while implied powers are ones that maybe aren't as clear, maybe they haven't been explicitly listed but they are assumed because of certain wording or just in order to do the enumerated powers and this is a really important concept because in any federal system where you have multiple layers, you have the federal government, you have the state governments and of course you also have the local governments but this idea of what powers go to the federal government versus the state government is a super important one and it's a matter of significant debate and it has changed over time, so to just get our base line understanding, let's sample some of the enumerated powers to the federal government inside of the United States Constitution. So, this right over here is Article One, Section Eight of the United States Constitution. I'm not going to read it in its entirety, we'll focus on some of these powers in more detail in other videos but I will sample it and focus on some of the clauses that have been especially cited and have been especially relevant to the world that we live in. So, just to sample, so the Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, so these are very clear enumerated powers. It's listing what the Congress has the power to do. The Congress can borrow money on the credit of the United States. Once again, a very clear enumerated power. To regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several states and with the Indian tribes. Now, this clause right over here and this is now referred to as the Commerce Clause might not really stand out to you, it might not stand out to you relative to the right to conduct foreign affairs or something that seems very big and dramatic like that but it turns out that the Commerce Clause is viewed as one of the significant clauses that gives the federal government significant rights and it's considered to have really three enumerated rights embedded in it. You have the regulation of commerce with foreign nations, the regulation of commerce among the several states and with the Indian tribes. And it's the middle one that is viewed as giving the federal government a lot of power because even though it might seem okay, well, we're just talking about commerce between states, it's been used to justify things like federal drug laws that even if a state argues hey, we are just going to say legalize marihuana within our states, the federal government has cited that your legalization of marihuana is going to affect commerce between states and we'll go into more depth in that in future videos but the Commerce Clause is a key enumerated right that's given in the constitution that is viewed as giving the federal government fairly broad authority. But, let's continue. To establish a uniform rule of naturalization. Who becomes an American? Uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcy. Keep going, I always encourage you to look at this in context in the actual constitution. That is always interesting. The reason why I listed all of these out even though I'm not going to read them is that it's just interesting to see how many of these enumerated rights there are but I'm going to focus on the last clause because this one is in a lot of ways a lot bigger than all of the other ones. It says to makes all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all other powers vested by this constitution in the government of the United States or in any department or officer thereof. Pause this video. Think about why this is a very, very, very big deal. Well, the previous 17 clauses were very explicit. They were enumerated powers about what the federal government has the power to do but his one here is making a much broader statement. It's saying to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, the enumerated powers that were in the last 17 clauses and so, this is known as the Necessary and Proper Clause which you will hear a lot about, Necessary and Proper and it provides for a lot of implied powers because it's essentially saying look, there's things that we haven't listed in the enumerated powers in the previous 17 clauses but the federal government has the right to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and so, even when I was talking about say federal drugs laws it's really the combination of the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause that allows the federal government to make some of these broader arguments that says okay, we regulate commerce and in order to regulate commerce we need to regulate drugs because it is necessary and proper for regulating interstate commerce, so we're gonna talk more and more about this especially when we look at specific constitutional cases that will cite these clauses but it's really important to appreciate what enumerated powers are and what implied powers are which the Necessary and Proper Clause gives a lot of and the anti-federalists really did not like this 18th clause. Understanding the ideas of enumerated and implied powers is going to be really helpful as we study the various disputes over state versus federal powers throughout American history and how it is decided on by say the Supreme Court when they cite the constitution and in particular cite some of the clauses that we have just looked at.