Lesson Objectives:- Expressed and implied powers
- Necessary and Proper Clause
- Federal powers and state powers
- Prohibited powers and concurrent powers
- The Supremacy Clause
- Interstate relations
The Constitution does not specifically define the term Federal System, nor does it actually divide the powers between the national government and the states. However, the powers that are granted to the national government are both expressed and implied.
The expressed powers are known as Enumerated Powers, the powers specifically granted to the national government by the Constitution. The first seventeen clauses of Article I, Section 8, specify most of the enumerated, or expressed, powers of the national government.
With these powers listed one by one, the national government has a clear directive for its responsibility to the American people.
Beyond the expressed powers, there are also implied powers granted to the national government. These are summed up in what is known as the Necessary and Proper Clause.
Also known as the Elastic Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause can be found in Article I, Section 8, that grants Congress the power to do whatever is necessary to execute its specifically delegated powers.
Article I, Section 8 states, "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers..."
As a sovereign power, the federal government must be the only government within the United States with the power to make deals with other nations.
That is how America has grown from the thirteen states it started with to the fifty it has now plus the territories it has throughout the world.
So, what powers do the states have? The powers of the states are not expressly listed in any specific document. The concept of state power comes from the 10th Amendment.
In the 10th Amendment, it states that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
In other words, if it is not a power of the national government and if it is not prohibited, the states have the right to assume they have that power.
One of the powers that belong to the states is Police Power. Police Power might seem as if the state has the power to protect its citizens with a trained force, but it is really much more than that.
Police Power gives the state the authority to legislate for the protection of the health, morals, safety, and welfare of the people. In the United States, most police power is reserved to the states.
Police Power has been used for such things as marriage, education, and the use of land, in addition to law enforcement.
If you recall, South Carolina successfully negotiated that the national government cannot impose export taxes. That is an example of a Prohibited Power.
If the Constitution does not grant the power expressly or implicitly, it is prohibited. The fact that the states cannot enter into deals with other countries is an example of Prohibited Powers on the state level.
There are some powers that are shared by the national government and the states. They are known as Concurrent Powers.
Concurrent Powers are powers held jointly by the national and state governments.
One example is the power to tax. Both the Federal and State governments have the power to collect taxes.
With national, state, and concurrent powers that are either expressed or implied, there needs to be an ultimate authority recognized. This would be challenged throughout history, but it rests with the Constitution and the national government.
The Supremacy Clause is the constitutional provision that makes the Constitution and federal laws superior to all conflicting state and local laws.
The Supremacy Clause states, "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof... under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land..."
How are the states supposed to act towards each other? It is a system known as the "rules of the road.“ These rules are put in place to keep all the states somewhat bonded in the union.
Among these rules are practices such as extending the state's privileges and immunities to citizens of other states. Also, a person trying to escape justice must be returned at that state's request.
Also, states can enter into agreements or interstate compacts with each other, as was the case between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. But, these interstate compacts cannot make those states more powerful than the other states or the national government.