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The United States Constitution explicitly states powers and limitation on all three Federal branches of government: The Legislature (House & Senate), Executive (The President), and the Judicial Branch (Federal court system).

Article I of the Constitution addresses the

Legislative Branch.

In Article I Section 8 the "Powers of Congress" are listed as this:

1. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and generalWelfare of the United States; but all Duties,Impostsand Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

2. To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

3. To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

4. To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

5. To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

6. To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

7. To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

8. To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

9. To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

10. To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

11. To declare War, grant Letters of Marqueand Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

12. To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

13. To provide and maintain a Navy;

14. To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

15. To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

16. To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

17. To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

18.To make 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.

It is this last clause that has cause much controversy due to its ambiguous wording "Necessary and Proper" and has allowed the reach of Congress to extended further and further over the years.

Article 1 Section 9 then lists the Limits on congress:

1. The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

2. The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

3. No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

4. No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

5. No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

6. No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

7. No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.

Further powers and restrictions have been delegated to the Legislature via the Amendments. Those which directly concern the Legislative body are:

1st Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

9th Amendment

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

10th Amendment

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.

13th Amendment

1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

14th Amendment

Deals with citizenship rights. Clause 5 states that "The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article"

15th Amendment

1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

16th Amendment

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

18th and 21st Amendments

Prohibition and its abolishment (respectively)

Amendment 19

1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendments 22 -24

Presidential Term Limits, Presidential voting district for District of Columbia, and Poll Taxes Barred (in their respective order). All these are under the power of the Legislature.

Amendment 26

1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The Executive Branch

Article 2 which defines the President's role in government is MUCH shorter than Article 1 (thank goodness!) As you will see, the Constitution didn't really enumerate much for the President.

Article 2 Section 2 is where the President's powers are enumerated. (I've numbered and separated them a little bit for ya; In text it is in paragraph form)

1. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;

2. he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases ofImpeachment.

3. He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;

4. and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law:

(A limitation on the president in regards to this topic)

but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

5. The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

The president is also required to give the State of the Union Address.

As you can see, the president today enjoys much more powers than what are explicitly granted in the Constitution. The main reason for this is due to a lack of the Constitution explicitly forbidding actions as it does the Legislative Branch, and the President's ability to implement Executive Orders which carry the weight of law.

The amount of power exercised by modern presidents (namely since Roosevelt) has stirred up some controversy in politics from time to time when the population believes the President has really overstepped their bounds.

The Judicial Branch has its own delegated powers.

These are found in Article 3 of the Constitution.

Article 3 Section 1 enumerates Judicial powers

1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court,

1a. and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

2. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their services a compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

You may know that the Judicial Branch has the ability to overrule the Legislature and declare a law or action unconstitutional. This is not addressed in Article 3. It was actually first asserted in Calder vs. Bull in 1798 and was later given precedence and official power by Supreme Court Justice Marshall in the case Marbury vs. Madison in 1803

The Supreme court does have a few Amendments that affect their function. The are:

5th Amendment

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

6th Amendment

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

(see also the related link for resources on the subject)

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Q: What powers dose the constitution delegate to the federal government?
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Continue Learning about American Government

Who does the US Constitution delegate police powers mainly to?

The U.S. Constitution does not delegate police powers. The power of police departments are defined at the town, county, and state levels, not at a federal level. The powers of federal police forces like the U.S. Marshalls are defined in law by Congress, but these are not defined in the Constitution. The U.S. Constitution does cover military/war powers of the United States Government. The only time the Constitution may impact the power of police is when it comes to obeying federal laws. The U.S. Constitution specifically defines that federal law is "law of the land", meaning that federal ALWAYS supersedes local and state law.


Powers hinted at by Constitution and belong to federal government?

implied powers


What are powers prohibited to the federal government called?

Powers prohibited to the federal (national) government under the US Constitution are called Denied powers.


What was the origin purpose of the US Constitution and what did the early colonists want to protect themselves from?

The founding fathers established the Constitution to do just two things: Establish a federal government for the United States of America Delegate to the federal government certain, limited (and enumerated) powers. they protect themselves from Great Britain


What rights did the states keep under the federal system of government?

The states were given all powers not delegated to the federal government in the Constitution. However, there are implied powers that the federal government can use.

Related questions

In what are delegated powers given?

No, to delegate means to give to another (as in a job or a responsibility). So to delegate a power means to give it to someone else. In the U.S. Constitution, powers are given to the government by the states and the people, not given to the states and the people by the government.


What powers does Constitution explicitly give to the Federal government?

The powers the Constitution explicitly gave to the federal government are known as delegated powers.


Who does the US delegate police powers mainly to?

The U.S. Constitution does not delegate police powers. The power of police departments are defined at the town, county, and state levels, not at a federal level. The powers of federal police forces like the U.S. Marshalls are defined in law by Congress, but these are not defined in the Constitution. The U.S. Constitution does cover military/war powers of the United States Government. The only time the Constitution may impact the power of police is when it comes to obeying Federal Laws. The U.S. Constitution specifically defines that federal law is "law of the land", meaning that federal ALWAYS supersedes local and state law.


What are the states reserved powers?

The powers that the Constitution does not delegate to the United States and that which is not prohibited to the States are reserved to the State.


Who does the US Constitution delegate police powers mainly to?

The U.S. Constitution does not delegate police powers. The power of police departments are defined at the town, county, and state levels, not at a federal level. The powers of federal police forces like the U.S. Marshalls are defined in law by Congress, but these are not defined in the Constitution. The U.S. Constitution does cover military/war powers of the United States Government. The only time the Constitution may impact the power of police is when it comes to obeying federal laws. The U.S. Constitution specifically defines that federal law is "law of the land", meaning that federal ALWAYS supersedes local and state law.


what type of powers does this quote from the constitution refer to (apex) a.powers reserved for the statesb.implied powers of the federal government c.powers denied to the federal government d.expressed powers of the federal government?

d. expressed powers of the federal government


Does the constitution gives the government unlimited power?

No, the constitution does not give unlimited power, in fact it gives only limited powers to the government. There are 3 types of powers: Expressed, Implied, and Reserved. Expressed Powers - powers for the Federal government that are not specifically stated in the Constitution. Implied Powers - powers for the federal government that are actually written down in the constitution. Reserved Powers - powers given to state government (basically the left-over powers that the Federal government isn't in charge of.)


What powers does the Constitution state are given to the federal government?

Expressed powers


Powers hinted at by Constitution and belong to federal government?

implied powers


Why does the Constitution establish the powers of the federal and state government?

they are rserved powers


What are powers prohibited to the federal government called?

Powers prohibited to the federal (national) government under the US Constitution are called Denied powers.


What are the powers called that are specifically granted to the national government by the constitution?

Enumerated powers are the powers granted to the Federal Government by the U.S. Constitution. The clause explicitly enumerates all of the powers the Federal Government should have, and their powers are limited to those listed in the clause.