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What Are The Implied Powers

What Are The Implied Powers

The 1819
case of McCulloch v. Maryland addressed the scope of powers held by the Federal
Government and expanded them in provoking the creation of the doctrine of
implied powers granted under the Constitution. The Supreme Court thus placed
limits of states to act against programs undertaken by the Federal Government.
To provide justification for this decision, the Court appealed to Clause 18,
Section 8 of
 Article I of the Constitution, as it is
considered to represent the “Necessary and Proper Clause.” This
section grants Congress the ability to pass legislation which it finds
“necessary and proper” for the task of exercising the other rights expressly
given by the Constitution.

The implied powers doctrine came out of an attempt by the State of
Maryland to block under law the operations of the Federally-backed Second Bank
of the United States. The State Legislature thus placed a tax on the notes held
by all banks originally established outside of the State. Though it did not
specifically mention the Second Bank, the Supreme Court found that it could
reasonably establish that this was the purpose of the law, given that no other
out-of-state banks then existed in Maryland.

Under the heading of the
legislation, the Second Bank’s president, James McCulloch, had been prosecuted
after he refused to pay the required fee. On appeal, the State made the
argument that the Constitution does not mention banks and that the Second Bank
of the United States thus lacked Constitutional protection.

The Supreme Court rejected the actions of the State by finding
that the Federal Government held implied powers under the Constitution, such as
it had exercised by creating Federal banks. Chief Justice Marshall
 wrote the
Court’s opinion, referring to the political concept of the social contract to
establish the binding power of the Federal Government as provided by the Constitution.
Marshall then observed that the Constitution could not specifically address all
of the specific ways in which the Government would fulfill the duties to which
it was generally obligated, but rather implied the functions which the Government
might take on to meet its responsibilities.

The opinion referred
to the Necessary and Proper Clause as the place in which the implied powers
concept is explicitly addressed and that this stipulation was classed with
other Congressional powers, rather than their limitations. As expressed in
Marshall’s opinion, the implied powers doctrine thereby established the broadly-defined
ability of Congress to use powers which it was not barred from exercising
rather than those which it was explicitly given the right to use.

Marshall did
not place the existence of implied powers as an absolute limitation on other
rights, but specified that an implied power might be limited by the finding
that a right already granted to states or individual citizens conflicted with
it. The outcome of McCulloch v. Maryland nevertheless placed new and
wide-reaching limitations on the power of states and signaled the beginning of
a newly broadened understanding of Federal power, particularly over individual
State governments and laws.