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Police Power Explained

Police Power Explained

Police power
is representative of the way in which individual states may regulate citizen
and non-citizen behavior and conduct. It proceeds with the express purpose of
ensuring that the public’s welfare is maintained, as well as its general health
and safety.

constitutions usually provide the limitations by which police power is
instituted. It stems all the way back to the feudal systems of Europe. The
exhibition of police power may be seen in a number of ways. These include: the
creation of laws and the imposing of these laws by physical force or other such

Conflicts that usually arise as a result of the
existence of police power are those which concern the beliefs that such
physical force may not actually be in legal concurrence within the realm of the
United States Constitution. Federal courts are usually confronted with issues
of civil liberties which come into question, presenting serious consequences in
relation to the institution of police power.

accordance with Nineteenth Century legislation, Federal courts ruled that
despite the overseeing powers of the Federal Government, states possessed sole
control over the handling of police power. This system works to deal with
situations such as that concerning property considerations, public health
issues, laws concerning heinous crimes, as well as various other aspects of

This may be seen as is exhibited within the Tenth Amendment of the
United States Constitution. This Amendment states that powers not assigned to
the Federal Government are to be left to that of the State as well as the
general public. Police powers are that which are set forth in accordance with State
constitutions having precedence, but also with some limitations.

One such
case is that of Lawrence v. Texas. In this Supreme Court case, Federal courts
stated that “intimate” situations not be subject to police power
aside from if it presented harm in relation to the health and overall safety of
those involved. A case that demonstrated how local authorities may abuse their
power includes that of Mahony v. Township. This involved the township
instituting “zoning ordinances,” which then were deemed an illegal use
of police power. This was due to the fact that a complete barring of private
gas wells was seen as without real reasoning since it had no actual effect over
concerns such as the health, safety, and welfare of the whole town. This case
example shows just how even a system of police power may also go too far
regardless of its legal intent.